Pinnacle – South Africa’s leading ICT distributor and authorised distributor of Huawei Technologies Enterprise products in South Africa and Africa — has revealed the results of research conducted on behalf of Huawei Technologies into the global advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) market.
Pinnacle’s Huawei business unit executive, Fred Saayman, says the report, compiled by Navigant Consulting on behalf of Huawei Technologies, is a detailed expose of the global AMI market which includes forecasts for the African region.
Saayman says AMI is defined as an integrated system of meters, communications networks, both wired and wireless, and data management technologies that support two-way communication.
“An AMI system also enables two-way communications with customer-side systems such as home-area networks, connected thermostats, in-home displays and energy management systems,” says Saayman. He adds the term AMI can be used synonymously with smart meters, or smart metering. “The drive for smart meter deployments is strong worldwide. The benefits of smart meters are starting to be realised, and their applications are evolving. This report shows that the AMI market is not only maturing but is growing,” he says.
The report notes that the AMI or smart meter market is showing signs of maturing as utilities look for integrated solutions beyond just hardware, though the meters and related infrastructure are still crucial.
“Now that deployments are more plentiful, utility managers still in the planning or pilot phase have examples of how smart meter data can be utilised beyond billing and new rate structures. Utility managers recognise that interval meter data can tie into not only meter data management systems, but also other operational processes, including outage management systems, geographic information systems, and volt/ volt-ampere reactive control. The need for greater data analytics is a common theme, as well as how to make use of data in new ways that helps to make utility operations more efficient or enable greater customer engagement. Smart meters make it possible to use real-time (or near real-time) data to take action — something many utilities are just now starting to apply more frequently,” says Saayman.
Smart meter data also allows for utilities to provide customers with more comprehensive billing information, such as kilowatt-hours of use and more detailed month-by-month cost comparisons. Now that is something that holds real value for the South African market.”
Saayman says that as electricity customers grow familiar with accessing and using timely information about their consumption through smart meters. This in turn should lead to more energy-savvy consumers as they gain a better understanding of the dynamic nature of electricity costs.
“Because electricity cannot be stored easily, the wholesale price of electricity can vary substantially depending on supply-demand conditions and time of day. Globally, some utilities have created dynamic pricing schemes or tariffs for larger commercial and industrial customers to more closely reflect the dynamic nature of wholesale electricity prices. With the proliferation of advanced meters that can record usage at small intervals, more dynamic types of pricing can be applied down to the residential level. The ultimate solution is real-time pricing, which simply passes through the actual cost of electricity to the customer.
“When it comes to more complex billing applications, timelier and more accurate data emanating from smart meters eliminates the need to estimate consumption. This improves the accuracy of billing and enables more complex billing applications and rate structures,” he says.
Saayman highlights that the report shows the pace of future smart meter deployments will vary by region and utility. “Smart meters enable customers to become more efficient energy users, an important goal for consumers looking to reduce costs and regulators seeking equitable rates. So, it is hardly surprising that smart meter shipment revenues for Middle East and Africa are projected to increase from US$16.7-million in 2013 to $147.6-million by 2023 at a compound annual growth rate of 24.3%,” concludes Saayman.
- View the full report here (PDF). For more information visit www.pinnacle.co.za
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