Saving money on smart meter roll outs by using broadband friendly meters

Technology incompatibility can cost a state millions in smart meter roll outs. This is being experienced in the state of Victoria in Australia as reported in The electricity companies have opted for wireless technology not broadband to retrieve data from the smart meters. Coupled with the fact that the meters only have a life span of 15 years and Victorians will have to start paying for replacements from 2024.

An investigation by the newspaper the Herald Sun has uncovered a significant design flaw with the meter roll out as the meter were not designed to integrate with the governments roll out of a digital cable network known as the National Broadband Network (NBN). The meters are not compatible with the NBN for a number of “technical reasons”

The smart meter roll out commenced in October 2009 while the NBN roll out only commenced in August of this year so there is some argument but I am surprised that there is no simple bridging/gateway solution. Bridging/gateway solutions are a popular for allowing different protocols and systems to interface with each other. These are issues that our Smart Sustainable Energy students will be studying and developing hardware and software solutions for.

About 800,000 of the 2 million meters have been installed already and the cost of the roll out has doubled to 2 billion Australian dollars. Analysts estimate that if the meters were NBN compatible they could save between 250 and 300 million dollars on the roll out.

So the mantra for a smart meter roll out in Ireland is compatibility.



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