Telco and utility industry calls for government leadership to save energy and our environment.
At an industry roundtable in Sydney Australia 40 representatives from the telco and utilities industry discussed the latest developments in Broadband Power Line (BPL) developments. They concluded that there is clearly far more to BPL than an alternative broadband offering.
For example with projects underway across the globe the smart electricity meter reader market is rapidly developing.
However, it would be a grave mistake if we fail to consider the use of a telecommunications network beyond that of meter reading. We do need to take into account that this market and our society have changed since smart meters, based on narrow band technologies) were introduced some 25 years ago (as a matter of fact that technology dates back to the 1890s). While the electricity regulators are looking at current environmental, energy saving and global warming issues they appear to have their blinkers on and risk spending millions of dollars on narrowband technology, which could read meters but could exclude the full benefits that broadband would deliver going forward.
The decision makers in Government and in the utilities industry need to understand that there are big risks involved in spending so much money on a narrowly technology. In our rapidly changing environment with issues such as global warming, water shortages and electricity outages due to extreme hot or old cold temperatures, we clearly do need to think forwards and not as is currently is the case in most countries backwards.
The industry needs to make a stand now, before it is too late and this old technology gets installed, they need to speak up to politicians and other decision makers in this field to build a case that will see smart meters integrate features that allow utilities and their customers to address these critical issues in our society.
BPL can most certainly be used to create far greater energy use awareness and can empower users, by making information about individual domestic (or business) consumption directly available to the user’s PC, TV or mobile phone. There is also potential for new energy devices that people can use to better manage their own energy use. There is large pent-up consumer and small business demand for energy consumption information that allows them to better mange their own energy usage. It was estimated that by simply providing this information to customers you could create a national 10-15% saving in energy, basically saving the nation a few power stations. Smart water meters could also be linked into this system, with similar saving results.
Wouldn’t be an enormous waste if we overhaul all these meters and uses old technologies that are not taking these future energy saving and management issues into account, yet several Governments and utilities around the world have recently decided to go for old technology.
The information obtained from these smart meters also allows utilities to manage energy use in their networks at peak times (managing hot water systems, street lighting, etc). With another hot summer or cold winter looming it should be very obvious to all involved that we do need to address this issue – BPL can play a key role as long as our energy decision makers are willing to show vision on this matter. It is estimated that investing in broadband-based smart meter solutions could save our society and our environment literally hundreds of millions of dollars.
At the Roundtable the vendors invited utilities around the globe to let them know what they want from smart meters, how much they are prepared to spend and how many meters are needed. This could see the cost gap between the obsolete narrowband technology and the new BPL technology, bridged to an acceptable level. Representative at the Roundtable believe that they as an industry owe this to our society and to our environment. We need to ensure that we deploy the latest technology that not simply makes meter reading cheaper but more importantly also contributes to the implementation of solutions that immediately benefit energy savings and contribute to safeguarding our environment.
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