Together with its partners, Alcatel-Lucent is set to deliver Germany’s first smart metering managed service package to local energy supplier Stadtwerke Pasewalk.
The service is aimed at helping the utility address the demand to be more efficient as well as reduce its environmental impact. In particular, to ensure that Stadtwerke Pasewalk’s operations comply with the forthcoming European Union rules on consumption-dependent billing of gas, electricity and water, which come into effect at the start of 2010. It also means the company can give customers a device to monitor their own energy consumption and manage it accordingly.
Alcatel-Lucent’s partners in delivering the service are Vodafone Germany, which will provide machine-to-machine communication solutions, DIEHL Energy Solutions will deliver the smart meter and associated systems and services, and SIV AG is providing its ERP system, kVASy, which is used for billing by Stadtwerke Pasewalk.
This is interesting for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the fact that it takes four companies (five if you count SIV’s subsidiary UTIPS, which is also involved) to deliver a solution. Smart grids need several technologies to come together and solutions potentially need to be delivered on a large scale, so partnerships are the order of the day. We can expect to see many more, particularly since they will have to be primarily forged at the national level.
In this case there is also an element of a trial contract. Stadtwerke Pasewalk is quite a small company – one of 900 German utilities and with just 12,000 meters – but it’s keen to be at the forefront of technology use. So this represents a great test bed for the suppliers.
Perhaps more significantly is the approach. The utility wants to take advantage of technology but not make its own investment, given uncertainties about the approach, standards and impending regulation. It’s a particular issue for a company of this size, but is also going to be a consideration for much larger utilities who want to move but are concerned about which way to jump.
A major reason for outsourcing in the ICT industry is to benefit from new technology as it becomes available, as well as flexibility of delivery of the service provider. The impending implementation of smart grids represents a very similar scenario.