Context and needs

Directive 96/92/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 December 1996 concerning “common rules for the internal market in electricity” introduced the electricity market in European countries. Up to now however the market is working properly for the big producers and users and for the retailers, while the small consumers and prosumers cannot access directly the market and cannot be influenced by price signals.

Distributed generation from renewable and non-programmable energy sources is becoming widespread, requiring a more flexible management of the distribution grid, also involving energy storage.

For these reasons a “smarter” distribution grid is required.

A first step in this direction is the development and installation of a flexible smart metering architecture for multiple energy vectors. Up to now, the smart meters that are being installed are nearly only devoted to billing improvements. The new metering systems must go much further!


Objectives

The FLEXMETER project focus is the development and demonstration of a flexible smart metering architecture, based on cheap and already available components, that can be implemented in a plug and play way, combining metering of different services (electricity, water, gas, district heating), providing advanced services to the users, to the DSOs and to the other utilities, and enhancing the possibilities of the retail market.

  • simple off-the-shelf meters will be placed at the users for electric, ,water, thermal and gas metering;
  • a building concentrator, where the “smartness” of the metering system will reside, will be installed;
  • every building concentrator will communicate on one side with 10 to 20 user meters, and on the other side with a central system;
  • simple off-the-shelf meters will be placed also in MV/LV substations;
  • the central cloud system will collect data from the building concentrators and from MV/LV substation meters;
  • Data collection, fusion and mining algorithms will be adopted.

The proposed architecture will allow for innovative services for the prosumers, for example:

  • accessible data and historical records of the consumption;
  • analysis of the electric consumption with saving suggestions;

Together with innovative services for the DSOs, for example:

  • fault detection;
  • detection of energy thefts;
  • network balancing;
  • storage integration.

Also demand side management devices could be plugged into the system.

In the FLEXMETER project two pilot applications in two different countries (Italy and Sweden), on real distribution systems, with the involvement of the local DSOs and volunteer prosumers will be demonstrated.

The results on the demonstrators will then be scaled up to the size of the cities in order to evaluate the advantages on a real scale.