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Smart Meters could be smarter

Making the business case for a smart meter rollout and capturing the benefits can be particularly challenging. A key benefit attributed to smart meters is enhanced information to educate customers about their actual use. Unfortunately smart meters can be a clumsy tool. Smart meters provide consumers with time of use data on their total home consumption but do not provide granular insights about what appliances are driving this consumption.

You require a particularly engaged consumer who will systematically test scenarios around their home to isolate the usage of different appliances normally with a Home Area Network (HAN) display in hand and a notepad to keep track of all the numbers. Of course a real energy enthusiast might buy their own Home Energy Monitoring system but this is typically not information that is shared with their Utility so their ability to engage in comparisons and benchmarking is limited.

Providing the information that consumers need

An SAP partner solution called CleanPoint provides appliance level information to consumers with two way communication back to the Utility without relying on smart meters.

The solution centers on the CleanPoint Appliance Manager (CAM).  The CAM connects any device, circuit, or meter in the premises to the Utility company’s centralised CAM aggregator via a flexible range of communications technologies. The communication is 2 way, so the CAM collects information from whatever it is attached to and can also excerpt control over it. It can support proprietary software enabling it to talk with and control; any Smart Appliance. Smart Plugs can connect an existing  appliance or circuit to the CAM enabling remote monitoring and control.  The CAM Aggregator is able to manage in excess of 10m remote CAM systems, working with them to ensure high security and no loss of data even when the data link fails. The CAM devices rely on SAP Sybase SQL Anywhere to deliver the big data high velocity solution.

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CleanPoint integrates seamlessly with SAP HANA to provide insightful analytics and compelling content for consumer engagement. While CleanPoint captures vast amounts of granular data, SAP HANA allows the data to be analysed to draw the insights that will help drive targeted demand response programs with consumers. This can involve actually controlling the operation of appliances (e.g. cycling aircondition) vai the CAM devices. The cleanpoint solution can be used in conjunction with the SAP Demand Side Management application to reward customers for shifting their load.

New Business Models

The CleanPoint solution not only provides appliance level consumption data for consumer education and demand response programs. The streams of usage data for each individual appliance could be rated and charged by a Utility (independently of their electricity meter) using SAP Convergent Charging. This opens up new business models such as providing Appliances as a Service (AaaS). A somewhat unfortuate acronymn – we can work on that. Under this model a high consumption appliance with discretionary usage (e.g. a clothes dryer or airconditioner) could be used by a customer and paid for on a “time of use” scheme that incents customers to use the device off peak. The Utility would be creating a more loyal relationship with their customer (when your churn you need to give back or buy out your appliances) and by incenting customer load shifting they can manage their peak energy exposure. SAP Convergent Charging is already proven for rating consumption for electic car charge points. These charges can be invoiced standalone or bundled together with tradtional metered electricity consumption.

There are also no doubt a wide range of commercial possibilities to sell real world appliance consumption data to appliance manufacturers if privacy requirements are met.

So turn your mind to all the smart things that can be done without smart meters.

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3 Comments

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    1. Scott Hirst Post author

      Shiva,

      The wave of adoption has begun! A major Utility in the USA has just purchased Convergent Charging to rate and bill a new generation of innovative non-energy products that will be invoiced together with their energy bills.

      Convergent Charging has been re-branded as Hybris Billing as Hybris is becoming the umbrella brand for all of SAP’s Customer Engagement and Commerce solutions.

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      1. Shiva Kumaran

        Thanks for the update Scott. Introducing CC to Utilities customers for their non-energy products is a good move.

        BTW is it not just on the technology side we need to keep us updating but also on the Names. Hybris => Convergent Charging => Consume-to-Cash => BRIM and now Hybris Billing. Not complaining… really happy to see the evolution of the solution.

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