Two large distribution companies, a dynamic supplier, as well as representatives of the energy regulatory body, debated the trends affecting energy markets and their impact on the utilities business models, at Energy Breakfast Club, last Thursday.
Zoltan Nagy-Bege, Vice President of ANRE, opened the series of speeches with a presentation of the perspectives of unrolling smart metering solutions. “The European Directive requires that 80% of consumers to be reached by 2020, with the provision that national derogations are allowed for countries where cost-benefit analyzes show that the results are not positive”, the ANRE official said. “There are many opinions and views received at the Authority, and the subject matter is still open for discussion,” he added. “Even with a conservative approach, these targets and trends are clear, so sooner or later we need to have these smart metering systems in place. Any investment made in the network is remunerated with an investment recovery rate of 7.5 %, and under current financial market conditions, any such investment is good enough, so distributors are willing to invest very quickly. However, on the one hand, technological advances in this area are very fast, and, on the other hand, investments in the power network are also needed, and not just in smart meters, in order for us to be ready both technically and in terms of human resources”, said the Vice President of ANRE.
Electrica, in transition to the role of market facilitator
Livioara Şujdea, Chief Distribution Officer of Electrica SA, started from the global context of energy markets, which are in full process of transformation. It is expected that switching from centralized to distributed generation to force the distribution operators to move from a service provider to a “market facilitator,” said the representative from Electrica SA. In her opinion, the interests and needs of consumers, already at the core of the national energy strategy, must appear as such both in the regulations and in the action plans of the distribution operators.
With all the gains in recent years, Romania remains among the countries with the lowest performance in maintaining power supply in Central and Eastern Europe. At the same time, the relevant indicators for continuity in electricity supply (SAIDI, SAIFI) are directly correlated with infrastructure quality and the capacity of intervention of the distribution operators. An analysis presented by Livioara Şujdea has showed how the level of investment in network infrastructure contributes to the quality of the distribution service, by reduced operating expenses included. “Stimulating distribution operators to continue investing in infrastructure as well as improving the continuity of electricity supply should be key directions of the Regulatory Program IV”, said Electrica SA official.
In regards to the company’s initiatives, Livioara Şujdea mentioned the increase of the investment potential, by internalization of the execution personnel, by SCADA extension and the by introducing a field resources management system (WFM/FSMS). Unrolling of smart metering must be correlated with the regulatory framework, as “the lack of clear requirements on interoperability and the speed of technology change are delaying decision-making and investment commitments,” Livioara Şujdea explained.
In the transition to this role of market facilitator, Electrica SA analyses the options and opportunities created by smart metering implementation, in order to develop new products and services for the network users.
SMART Transformation Program, from Distribuţie Oltenia
Eugen Butoarcă, Executive Director, Member of Directorate at Distribuţie Oltenia presented the six pillars of the project through which the company aims to adapt its strategy and transform its business model. These include smart metering, SCADA and process automation, digitalization and mobile workforce management, data governance, and enterprise architecture. Capital investments scheduled for 2017-2020 in the SMART Transformation program amount to EUR 56 million and each segment is assessed from three perspectives: compliance with current and future legal requirements, increased operational efficiency and improved services for consumers.
The automation of the operation of the medium voltage power distribution networks and of the transformation stations are of immediate priority, Eugen Butoarcă stressed. In regard to smart meters unrolling, the company has already decided on what type of technology it will go, based on its pilot projects and laboratory tests. “We understood that our distribution network is a living and dynamic network,” said the representative of Distribuţie Oltenia. “All laboratory tests showed a 100% reading, but there were all sorts of disturbances introduced by the home electronics receivers in the field. We were in the situation that we replaced the TV set of one of the consumers because it introduced perturbations”, Eugen Butoarcă explained.
“We are ready to start the acquisitions procedures and we look forward to the order from the regulator to start the unrolling. It will not be easy at all, because we are talking about implementing smart meters to millions of customers simultaneously, by all distribution operators. Service providers for putting these systems in place are quite limited at national level”, Eugen Butoarcă said.
MET Energy Romania, partnerships for advanced energy management solutions
Petre Stroe, CEO of MET Energy Romania, talked about the very rapid evolution of the Romanian energy system in recent decades, from a centralized monopoly system with a single power company, in the early 90s, to a very diverse, dynamic and competitive system.
“From the supplier’s point of view, introducing smart metering has a major impact, especially in improving the quality in services for the consumers”, explained Petre Stroe. “We are for an acceleration of creating this link between the supplier and the consumer, because we are very interested in consumer feedback. We have tested solutions that provide us with a direct and real-time link with the consumer, in order to provide better services, the MET representative said.
As a guest initiated by Petre Stroe, Alexandru Glica, co-founder of Box2M, presented a smart metering solution for industry 4.0. “We are addressing the monitoring and measurement area with a solution that can aggregate electricity, water and gas utilities, as well as other special utilities for plants,” said Alexandru Glica. From the system-adapted meters, “we take the data, encrypt it, transmit it and climb it into a cloud application held by MET”, explained the representative from Box2M, a Romanian start-up with projects ready for the distribution and supply sectors in Saudi Arabia, Africa, and Central America.
“Our device can be integrated with the existing meters and can process the information locally. That is, we do not take bulk, everything that comes from the meter, but we only take what the customer wants; there are customers who will only use consumption data, there are customers who are interested in quality and consumption data, there are customers who are interested in some of the quality data – only some parameters that are relevant to them”, explained Alexandru Glica.
“Energy and telecom are the past and the future, from the perspective of the big data analytics experience; this is extremely advanced in the telecommunications area, and it can easily be translated into energy”, said Alexandru Glica, himself a specialist with a rich experience in telecommunication.
Over 40 representatives from Academia Română, Almaj&Albu, Anchor Grup, ANRE, AON, Automatica SA, Bioterpena System, Blue Planet, CEZ, Delphi Electric, Electrica, Elsaco Brunata, EnergoBit, Escorom, ITOCHU, Kaufland, Lubexpert, MET Energy România, Mitsubishi Corporation, Phoenix Contact, Photon Energy, Ridgid Emerson, Ringhel, Siveco, Telekom attended the presentations and participated in discussions.
Media partners for the event were Radio România Actualități, Agerpres, Klarmedia.
This year, energynomics.ro organized 10 Energy Breakfast Club meetings. The schedule and the proposed themes for 2017 are available in the Energy Breakfast Club dedicated page.