IBERDROLA, ERDF collaborate towards international open PLC standards for smart grids, metering

Source: IBERDROLA

IBERDROLA and ERDF have decided to join efforts towards an open PLC -Power Line Communications- standard that brings true interoperability to smart metering. To accomplish such an ambitious goal, IBERDROLA will assemble a team of experts to define a common PLC telecommunications profile. The resulting effort, will take into account the strengths of each protocol already being used by each company, will be offered to the standardization community worldwide. 

Developed to serve the needs of advanced metering systems and smart grids, the updated single set of telecommunications requirements will guarantee interoperability among systems and devices produced by different manufacturers. Technical specifications are to be open and public, as both utilities share the same vision on PLC architectures based on truly open standards. This will serve a variety of applications, such as smart metering, smart grids, electric vehicles charging systems, and many more. 

ERDF has been working since 2008 with major semiconductor and equipment providers to define an innovative PLC profile, known as G3-PLC, that reliably allows data transmission across transformers and medium and low voltage power lines for automatic meter management (AMM). Based on OFDM, G3-PLC supports the next generation IPv6 internet protocol, which widely opens the range of potential applications and services, facilitates network management and increases scalability. G3-PLC uses advanced channel-coding techniques to enable robust communication under noisy channel conditions. 

Besides that, ERDF is currently conducting advanced field trials through an AMM pilot involving 300,000 clients supplied by 7,000 low-voltage transformers. The focus of the project lies on the building of a Meter Management System fully integrated with other head-end Information Systems. This project, affecting 1% of low voltage customers, is a precursor to national deployment for 35 million clients in France. 

Since 2007, IBERDROLA has been working on an open and public PLC solution, based on OFDM with proof-of-concept tests in a laboratory and controlled pilots in different environments of low voltage networks in Bilbao, Madrid and Valencia. These pilots have shown outstanding results, both in terms of interoperability and performance. The solution is called PRIME (PoweRline Intelligent Metering Evolution) and the technical specs are mature enough for the industrialization phase. The first massive deployment of PRIME smart meters has just started in the city of Castellón, Spain, comprising 100,000 smart meters awarded to 7 independent meter manufacturers, employing 4 different though interoperable PLC PRIME solutions. The Castellon project also includes advanced monitoring and automation of the LV and MV grid and is the largest smart grid deployment in 2010. 

PRIME specs are managed by PRIME Alliance, a non-profit organization composed of 27 members: utilities, semi-conductor manufacturers and vendors that has been created to support and promote open and interoperable advanced PLC standards for the benefit of end-users and all industry stake-holders.
The results of this common work between IBERDROLA and ERDF will be offered to the international standardization bodies (i.e ITU-T and others) so as to allow them to consider this collaboration within their on going standards initiatives.



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