Smart meter

Smart meter roll-out by 2020 achievable if industry 'works as one' conference told

The UK Government’s aim to have smart meters in every home by 2020 is achievable if the industry “works as one”, a provider of energy management solutions says.

Landis & Gyr CEO Stephen Cunningham told the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s (IET) smart metering conference in London that interoperability was the “cornerstone to making smart work”, and the industry needed to work together.

The meters would provide consumers with real-time information about energy use, so they can manage and monitor their use. The government says the meters would be an important step towards the development of a smart grid and play an important role in the UK’s transition to a low-carbon economy.

Cunningham said the physical deployment of smart meters was the “big challenge”. If the roll out of smart meters began in 2013 and met the completion date of 2020, then 1300 homes per hour would need to be fitted with a smart meter, he said.

If that was cut to 2018, the date the Government’s aspiring to for completion, then the figure increased to 1750 homes per hour. That was working six days a week, eight hours a day, with no gaps between meter fittings, Cunningham said.

Landis & Gyr was working with industry competitors as part of the Smart Specification Working Group to design for interoperability. System-to-system and device-to-device compatibility were needed, he said.

Interoperability did not dictate technical design – each company was working on their own displays for example, but each were standardising their interfaces.

“We can do 2020, in fact we can absolutely do 2018… but it does require industry to work together, it does require us to break down some of the barriers that we’ve traditionally had,” Cunningham said.

Smart meter security - the threats and how to protect systems – was also discussed at the conference.

Renesas principal engineer Darren Govey said motivations for an attack could include financial gain, mischief, and cyber warfare/terrorism. The worst case scenario was that a worm could spread through the network, Govey said.

“This type of attack could disable any remote upgrade capabilities so could result in thousands of homes requiring a replacement meter for service to be restored; this would be very costly in monetary and PR terms.”

IBM Institute for Advanced Security director Martin Borrett said energy and utilities needed a smart grid security checklist – some of which included trusted platforms and networks, identity and access management services, and research teams that studied and published emerging threats and exploits.

IBM’s approach to cyber security included looking at the assurance and integrity of the systems, having insight and intelligence in advance, enabling security and privacy with an open, standards-based architectural approach, and following robust processes, he said.

In its fourth year, the IET two-day conference brought together professionals from energy utility companies, the engineering world and academia, involved in smart metering across the UK and globally.

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