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The intelligent electricity meter, known as a smart meter, enables customers to display their consumption on their home computer screen.
© EnBW
Test operation with 100 customers completed
17.08.2010

Intelligent electricity grid in test

If the electricity is particularly cheap, it automatically switches on the washing machine. What sounds like a dream of the future will soon become reality for several hundred test persons in Baden-Württemberg, as the ‘Minimum Emission Region’ (MeRegio) model project is launching its second phase. During the first phase, around one hundred customers received an intelligent electricity meter that is coupled to flexible electricity tariffs. The German Federal Ministry of Economics is supporting the project as part of its e-energy funding programme.

The intelligent electricity meter sends its data to the server of the energy provider, which analyses and processes it. Using special software, users can then display their own energy consumption every second on their home computer screen. In addition, a mobile price display unit indicates the current cost of the electricity. This makes it possible to cook, wash dishes, mow the lawn or use electricity in other ways when it is particularly cheap. The results of the first test run: The homes taking part have not only shifted a considerable proportion of their consumption into the cheaper tariff periods in which renewable energy is available but have also reduced their electricity consumption in general.

In the second phase, up to a thousand project participants in the Göppingen and Ettenheim/Freiamt regions will now be successively connected to the MeRegio infrastructure. The aim now is to also control intelligent end-devices automatically in accordance with the dynamic tariff. For this purpose a control box has been developed as an expansion to the intelligent electricity meter. This is programmable and can directly control individual electrical appliances in the home. This is aimed at running as many devices as possible when the electricity is particularly cheap. In addition to the intelligent electricity meter, a quarter of all the test persons will also receive a specially developed freezer unit that automatically communicates with the control box and can receive dynamic signals.

The MeRegio research project

The objective is, through deploying information and communication technology, to minimise CO2 emissions and contribute to climate protection. During four project phases, one of the intentions is to find out how dynamic electricity prices based on the availability of renewable energy in the grid prove their worth on a day-to-day basis. Here cutting edge technologies such as intelligent electricity meters and a so-called ‘energy traffic light’ play an important role. Those interested can find further information at www.meregio.de.

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