The UK Government is planning for 52 million smart meters to be installed in 30 million homes and businesses in the UK between 2014 and 2019. But one barrier is the technical complexity of the multiple energy management devices on the market that will need to communicate with meters if the full benefits are to be achieved. By bringing together the manufacturers, Trilliant hopes to make it easier for companies to roll-out stand-alone equipment and provide a simpler offering for utilities.
The Interoperability Group is based on using the Trilliant Communications Hub. The company claims to be the first to come to market with a certified network product, so wants to share the standards-based technology with other companies. The Group members will between them bring to market a range of products, technologies and approaches to give consumers better information about their energy consumption.
Trilliant says that the advantages of the collaboration will be lower development costs, better consumer choice and less complex deployments. It should also mean that utilities will be able to start delivering smart meters more quickly. In turn, households can start to benefit from the estimated annual savings of £938m a year (according to research from the European Smart Metering Industry Group) from measuring and managing their electricity use.
Eight industry players and in-home display providers have come together to form the Group, including energy and water resource management manufacturer, Itron, as well as Onzo a provider of data and analytics for utilities, plus Chameleon, a manufacturer of smart meter in-home displays. There are other companies involved but Trilliant is not naming the meter vendors. The expectation is that 25-30 companies will be in the group within six to nine months, although once development is underway the need for the group will diminish.
There is certainly some momentum behind smart meter activity in the UK at the moment as decision time approaches for the government to appoint the Data and Communications Company (DCC) and the start of the meter rollout draws ever nearer.
Trilliant has a point with this move. Interoperability will make it simpler and more flexible all round for utilities to make decisions about smart meters and other energy management devices. The company is in the fortunate position of being there first with its network solutions so has most to gain from interoperability. But there will be lots of players involved in the smart meter infrastructure and the devices that hang off of it (100 million devices are expected to be installed in the first five years of smart meter implementation), so the company is unlikely to have it all its own way.