Industry Expert Interview Series: Smart Meter and Smart grid aren't "one single product", they aren't "one single player"
Exclusive interview with Vincenzo Tartuferi – Director of the Energy & Utility Division, Engineering and Fabrizio Fontanesi – Director of Consultancy, Energy & Utility Division, Engineering. Engineering is a silver sponsor at the upcoming European Utility Week.
What are you most excited about currently in terms of Engineering’s products and solutions?
Smart Meter and Smart Grid are topics of great interest at the present moment, which have now entered everyday speech, so much so that sometimes they seem to be "the norm".
And at least with regard to technology, that is probably the case, in the sense that we have technologies or at least the knowledge required to produce such technology.
In Engineering, however, we are sure that smart meters and smart grids are not just a matter of technology, or in other words are not “one single product”.
They are on the other hand, the organic fusion of technology and processes, roles and responsibilities, rules and timescales, projects and usability of the final product which must involve all the operators in the value chain.
These beliefs have allowed us to start up production of the smart meter gas system in Italgas, the largest DSO found on the Italian market with almost 6 million PDr being managed; the very possibility of making this experience available to the larger European and world operators is what makes us really excited.
Again, starting from our beliefs, Engineering has been involved in supporting the Italian regulatory authority in defining the operational rules that allow all market operators to use the information, mainly measurements, gathered by the various DSO via the electrical smart meters. As is well known, from this point of view, Italy is surely a case of extreme interest in Europe, also probably worldwide: as the various DSO have almost completed replacement of the traditional meters with the smart ones.
This experience has allowed us to understand the risks and problems that are typical of the post-delivery phase of a smart meter.
What surprises you about this industry?
The current interest and the diffusion of the topics connected with smart meters and smart grids is very surprising, in spite of the fact that in Europe and in the rest of the world, there are issues between DSO and regulators regarding the sharing of investment costs and their impact on the regulated tariffs. The world economic crisis only accentuates such tension on this specific matter.
There is, however, another point that surprises me even more. On the one hand, in fact, the DSO, as managers of the distribution network, is the central operator in this process of transition towards an intelligent network; on the other hand, however, especially in a deregulated market, or one which is undergoing deregulation, it will be other operators in the value chain who will benefit from the tremendous opportunities following these interventions: just think of the new tariffs based on actual consumption, the development of new tariffs for electrical mobility or the development of prepaid offers, just to mention a few of the ones that Engineering is working on.
In this sense, we at Engineering do not consider these opportunities as “one single player”.