Sibelga does not want to proceed to a large-scale roll-out before 2023. Its strategy is to move forward step by step and to carry on testing different technologies and practical forms of installation of a limited number of smart meters.
First of all, let’s be smart-ready!
Before moving to the “full options” smart meter, we will use them without their remote communication functionalities. They will still be smart meters, but it won’t be possible to turn them on and off remotely or to read them automatically, etc. All Sibelga will do remotely is to make sure they are working properly and contact them for technical maintenance. Customers on the other hand, will be able to connect with the meter in order to get access to their own energy data.
So smart-ready meters will be installed to meet the European Energy Efficiency Directive in new buildings or when there is major renovation work. This will involve around 5,000 meters a year.
The new self-producers and the owners of electric vehicle charging stations will also be provided with smart-ready meters. An estimated 250 a year will be placed for self-producers. The number associated with electric vehicles is still difficult to estimate at the moment. Meters that have already been installed for both customer types, will be gradually replaced by 2023.
PLC or 2G/4G: two forms of communication to be tested
Smart meters can use two different types of technology to communicate: 2G/4G, like GSM, or the PLC (Power Line Carrier). The latter depends on the mains network. The information is sent along your power supply cables to the 2G/4G concentrator in a high-voltage substation.
2G/4G is suitable for dispersed deployment, while PLC is rather appropriate for systematic geographically concentrated deployment.
These two technologies will be tested. 2G/4G in the context of new constructions, major renovation work, self-producers and electric vehicles. Sibelga will launch a series of small pilot projects comprising some hundred meters to test the PLC technology as well as certain practical modalities of a geographic deployment.
And then what?
Our company also wants to place these new meters during systematic replacements of old meters which have been downgraded by the Metrology Service at FPS Economy in 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023. A bigger roll-out of around 40,000 meters a year is not planned before 2023. But a lot can still change between now and then (costs, technology, needs, etc).