Smart Metering: technology and participation

Published on Friday, 2 September 2016

Enel uses its expertise to develop an innovative electrical grid at Expo Energía 2016 in Santiago, Chile, presenting solutions that transform cities into Smart Cities.

From ancient Athens to large modern capitals, cities have always been the engine of social, economic and cultural progress – a role that in today’s context needs to take on a new perspective, in order to drive growth more sustainably.

By 2050, it is estimated that 65 percent of the world’s population will live in urban areas, which already account for over 60 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. It is therefore crucial to transform cities into Smart Cities.

Making big cities “smart” means rethinking all aspects of a city’s everyday life in terms of efficiency, starting from energy consumption. This was one of the main themes discussed at the recent Expo Energìa 2016 in Santiago de Chile. Institutional representatives of the energy industry participated in the event, which was sponsored by ElectroIndustria Magazine.

Enel, which is present in Chile’s power generation and distribution sector, contributed to the debate by presenting its experience in the development of intelligent management technologies for power grids.

“In the last ten years – explained Gianni Ceneri, Enel Global Infrastructure and Networks Network Technology head – we have developed and experimented with innovative power grids, giving way to so-called smart grids. A key element of these systems are smart meters, a technology that we continue to innovate, in order to define a new energy paradigm.

Our vision of the future is the creation of an energy model that is capable of integrating renewables into the distribution grid, by promoting their widespread use, and offering efficient services through the digitization of the distribution network. These solutions transform our clients’ role, allowing them to take on an active role rather than acting as passive consumers. These technologies allow us to put energy into users’ hands, enabling them to participate in the transformation of cities in more sustainable environments and Smart Cities,” in line with the “Open Power” approach that the organisation is adopting.

Digital meters allow you to collect and process huge amounts of data to inform customers about their consumption, thus providing them with the necessary tools to choose the most suitable rates for their needs, therefore reducing consumption, emissions and costs and allowing customers to increase energy efficiency. Thanks to the digitisation of the network and to smart meters, we can reduce the response time in case of malfunction and expand our range of services, with increasingly “smart” solutions: from charging infrastructure for electric vehicles to the management of small self-production facilities from renewable sources, and from a selection of lower rates to the remote management of home appliances, air conditioners and lighting facilities.

The technologies that we presented in Santiago – Ceneri highlighted – have aroused great interest, although they are not new to the South American country.”

Through its subsidiary Chilectra, Enel has recently launched the first phase of a Smart Metering programme in the Chilean capital, involving the installation of 50 thousand smart meters for residential customers in the year 2016, while supplying technological solutions for their remote management. This is just the first step to demonstrate to the community and to institutions Enel Group's desire to standardise this technology in all of the countries in which it operates.

Another part of the project is the Smartcity Santiago initiative in the Huechuraba neighbourhood, where a Smart City prototype has been developed, focusing on the use of sustainable energy and digital technologies to improve the quality of life, as well as urban environments. Based on this experience and leveraging the Smart Metering solution under development, the Smart City paradigm is being evaluated for extension to other areas of Santiago.

A series of initiatives that raise awareness on these key issues among stakeholders, starting from local institutions and authorities. To promote the spread and application of these smart technologies, we must start from a regulatory system that is capable of promoting them and opening the sector to all the players concerned.

To create a sustainable future rules must evolve and keep up with innovation.