The commitment made by the European Union, in accordance with the climate agreement signed at the COP 2015 climate conference in Paris, is to reach net-zero by 2050. The expansion of renewable electricity penetration in the energy system therefore represents a central aspect of the new structure, which will take on an increasingly clear-cut physiognomy in the coming decades.
In this scenario, it is easy to understand the need to have digital and intelligent systems along the electricity supply chain that allow the exchange of information in order to optimize energy flows and enable interaction between producers, consumers, prosumers, assets and service providers.
Meters and More – solution to address this market
Meters and More, a non-profit association created in 2010, has had an innovative and visionary approach focussed on adopting, supporting and evolving the field-tested Meters and More open communication protocol for smart grid solutions.
The association’s purpose is not only to provide an interoperable end-to-end solution for smart metering but also to develop extensions for complementary value-added services based on its founding principles.
The technical committees are engaged in opening new prospects for moving beyond metering, working during the last at least six years to develop the first prototype of the Meters and More smart energy gateway. This is based on an extension of the existing protocol and enables communication between the smart meter and in-home devices. This interface enables the interchange of energy consumption information in real-time as well as the inclusion of new services based on the Meters and More protocol.
Within the association, the work for the definition of the communication protocol between the smart meter and the in-home device (Meter to Gateway Interface) was organized with a Working Group, which provided the definition of the general specifications, the use cases, up to the physical protocol level, and the data model.
Finally, the working group developed a prototype of the gateway based on commercial hardware, which was then tested and validated.
The next step will be to formalize the specifications with the Technical Committee of Certification and then to make them public and promote them within the international certification bodies. At present, these developments are available at source code level for Meters and More members who need to develop their own gateway.
CHAIN2 – The Italian case of Meters and More technology
The maturity of the Meters and More standard resulted in its selection by the Italian Electrotechnical Committee as the national standard communication protocol for communication between the Open Meter and the user device and which has become the CHAIN2 standard (the standards of reference are the TS CEI 13-82, TS CEI 13-83 and TS CEI 13-84).
On the energy front, CHAIN2 opens up a market in which the users become an integral part of the smart grid system, positioning them as the main actor of their energy management, both produced and consumed, and allowing them to optimize and use it according to load balancing, maximization of self-consumption and demand response requirements.
CHAIN2 is conveyed through Open Meters, the second generation meters that have been adopted by all DSOs in Italy and are being installed in homes, companies and other buildings throughout the country.
To date, more than 20 million Open Meters are installed. With the Open Meters you can realize the CHAIN2 services in different application areas to enable the collaboration of the various players in the energy market including the producers of renewables, ESCOs, utilities, energy retailers and smart appliances.
Within this framework, ARERA (the Italian Regulatory Authority for Energy, Networks and Environment), after having strongly promoted the CHAIN2 standard, continued with the introduction of resolution 541/2020 aimed at the electric mobility market.
Specifically, this is a pilot test aimed at exploiting the potential offered by the electronic meters installed at customers connected at low voltage, in order to offer greater availability of power during the night and other off-peak time slots, at the same cost for the charging of electric vehicles. In the path traced by ARERA, the experimentation will also involve the second generation meters and therefore all the services admissible with CHAIN2.
Since 2020, with the formalization of the complete CHAIN2FULL 2.0 specification, several significant successful projects have been launched using the CHAIN2 technology that, as MAC, we have been able to develop with our customers and stakeholders.
Among the most interesting were applications that allow energy-intensive products, such as smart appliances or electric vehicle charging stations, the possibility of communicating directly with the Open Meter in order to implement smart charging algorithms including avoiding exceeding thresholds, the time-shifting of consumption and, last but not least, maximizing the self-consumption of renewable energy.