Jon Stretch Executive Vice President Landis+Gyr EMEA gives an interview to WSNBuzz
November 25, 2013
Jon Stretch Executive Vice President Landis+Gyr EMEA recently gave an interview to WSNBuzz a blog covering news on smart grid innovation, wireless standards and green technologies.
1. Landis+Gyr is offering with Gridstream® an end-to-end future-ready smart grid solution. What group of customers is Landis+Gyr targeting with Gridstream?
Jon Stretch: With Gridstream, Landis+Gyr is really targeting utility customers all across EMEA. Especially customers who do not want to depend on proprietary solutions and instead require a solution that is market-proven, interoperable and flexible enough to be used for different projects.
Therefore, Landis+Gyr has designed its Gridstream solution for a variety of needs and deployment strategies.
Many utilities are looking to purchase an end-to-end solution in order to have one strategic partner, who has clear ownership and responsibility for the performance of the system. In this case, the Gridstream end-to-end solution would be deployed including Meter Data Management functionality (MDM). The benefit here is that the solution is already pre-integrated, market-proven and flexible enough to be seamlessly integrated into an existing system environment.
Alternatively, those utilities looking for proven core functions that are needed to deploy, run and manage smart metering installations and a smart metering infrastructure would choose Gridstream with its IEC based standard interfaces; it would be their choice as it can integrate with MDM or other systems that are already in place, and still deliver a market proven and flexible core solution to handle the complexity of a smart metering infrastructure.
There are also customers willing to handle integration and communication management – and the associated risks – on their own. Those that want to do that are able to deploy Landis+Gyr smart meters and integrate them with their standard interfaces according to IEC/IDIS.
Obviously we also keep a close eye on emerging regulation and market requirements. Thusly, we are continually enhancing Gridstream with regular new releases and product launches. Our customers not only benefit from the broad usage of the Gridstream solution across EMEA but also have a future proof investment.
2. Is Landis+Gyr currently allowing 3rd party companies to tie in their solutions to the Gridstream platform?
Jon Stretch: Yes, Landis+Gyr fully supports interoperability and therefore allows third parties to tie their solutions to the Gridstream platform; our solution architecture has an IEC 61968 based standard integration framework, as well as Meter Data Unification and Synchronisation (MDUS) and Interoperable Device Interface Specifications (IDIS).
Ensuring interoperability is a priority for Landis+Gyr and for this reason, in 2009, we joined two other meter manufacturers to establish the IDIS association. The IDIS specifications are based on the well-established, international standards series EN/IEC 62056, and the association has also developed a corresponding testing environment. In order to ensure neutrality, the tests are conducted by DNV Kema, an internationally recognised testing institution for the electronics industry based in the Netherlands. The IDIS specifications and the IDIS testing environment are made available to all manufacturers and utilities, irrespective of whether they are members of the IDIS association or not.
IDIS has been key in enabling Landis+Gyr to contribute to the development of interoperability, and therefore enable access by third parties to our platforms, as you say. The IDIS association is the only way to ensure that interoperability based on open standards is not just talk – but rather that it becomes a fact.
3. Toshiba acquired Landis+Gyr AG in 2011 with a wish to position the Smart Community business as a new focus area. Two years later, how successful has the transition been?
Jon Stretch: The transition has been very successful, and we are seeing the fruits of those labours already. Landis+Gyr and Toshiba saw the challenges that our customers have been facing trying to plan and get ready for smart grid development. We know that they need to be ready to act to stay in line with political and regulatory requirements, so we decided to jointly invest in a competence center for smart grid applications.
The Smart Grid Solution Center (SGSC) has just started to operate out of Nuremberg, Germany, with a focus on designing smart grid applications that are exactly tailored to the specific needs of our customers. This has been a significant step in getting the Smart Community business underway. Landis+Gyr and Toshiba now cover areas from energy management systems, renewable integration, demand response, ICG metering and we are continually identifying synergies in already installed or planned advanced metering infrastructures.
The fact that the SGSC is now up and running is a major milestone in Landis+Gyr and Toshiba’s development. Responding to customer needs through providing a service such as the SGSC is a market milestone in itself – this was a first to market concept.
4. Finally, are there any major regulatory challenges on the pathway for smart metering in Europe? Is the situation similar in the rest of the world?
Jon Stretch: The challenges faced by the smart metering industry are not technological, but rather political and regulatory. There is a widespread consensus among policy-makers at the European level that investments in smart metering must increase dramatically in the coming years if the EU is going to meet its very ambitious energy and environmental policy goals. The difficulties, however, are at the national and regional level where national regulatory authorities in the EU Member States and the Distribution System Operators (DSOs) must negotiate over the recovery of investment costs in smart metering and smart grid technology.
This situation causes developments in Europe as a whole to be fairly slow – sometimes excruciatingly so. In many cases, the discussion in Europe is still bogged down in “who benefits (from smart metering), and who pays for what”. Smart Metering needs to be seen – as the European Commission has said – as the “essential first step toward the smart grid.” With that view, we can see that it is a societal infrastructure project, indispensable to the energy supply system of the future. But it is already questionable as to whether Europe will achieve the targets foreseen in the 3rd Energy Package.
That said, however, we still expect to see things get moving in the next couple years. Even Germany – the largest market in Europe – is finally taking some concrete steps to begin the country’s smart meter rollout.
As to the rest of the world, there has been significant smart metering progress in the US market and other markets such as those in Asia-Pacific hold great potential. What we need everywhere is clear, concise and forceful legislation and regulation, and a wise regulator who knows how to “divide the cost pie” to allow the DSO to invest in smart metering and smart grids.