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Smart Grid, Does One Size Fit All? The LATAM Perspective

Smart Grid, Does One Size Fit All? The LATAM Perspective

Jun 01, 2021

Smart Grid is going global. Despite COVID-19, the world is maintaining its focus on energy sustainability and fair access to energy by all. Smart Grid programmes are continuing where it really counts – where benefits to society take the form of integration of renewable energy, preparation for the EV revolution, reduced energy loss, reduced theft and fraud and fair accessibility.

This is true in LATAM, where major smart meter rollouts are leading the investment in a smart energy transition which will have far-reaching consequences for decades to come.

Unfortunately, one size does not fit all. Different regions of the world are at different points in their smart energy transition. That is why any DSO investing in smart meters needs to make the right choice for their market.

For LATAM, the key questions a DSO should ask are:

  • Will the smart meters communicate with the necessary performance to deliver the information required to drive energy loss and cap-ex optimization programs and generate self-funding national transformations?
  • Do the smart meters come with companion software solutions to streamline the massive rollout activities and maintain multi-millions of IT devices in the field for decades to come?
  • How will the DSO gain real practical insight into what is happening in the low voltage grid and so keep their infrastructure optimized to changing demand?
  • Have the smart meters been proven to work in the world’s hostile environments where climatic conditions and legacy infrastructure are farthest from “laboratory test cases”?
  • How will the DSO combat the completely new mechanisms of cyber-crime and cyber-fraud which are introduced with IT-enabled smart technology in the field?
  • Does the smart metering solution offer multiple communications options to handle those “hard to reach” areas or areas where coverage has been temporarily degraded?
  • Do the smart meters provide a robust platform with extensive features designed to protect utilities from non-technical losses, fraud and theft, including alarms for tampering, power-cycles, cover removal, and other indicators of fraud and theft?

If a smart meter vendor cannot answer these questions, then their relevance to the LATAM market should be seriously questioned.

The Open Smart Grid Protocol (OSGP) is a standard for smart grid communications and is a foundation to answering these questions. It provides reliable, optimized, and secure communications for smart grid devices using PLC and cellular technologies. With communications typically above 99%, supporting full voltage and power measurements as well as metering information, this is a differentiator even before looking at the smart meters.

NES uses OSGP in their smart meters and extends this with companion software solutions that embed hard-learnt practical experience to reduce deployment times, maintain the system at optimal performance, understand the topology of the legacy infrastructure, pin-point asset over- or under-utilization and identify points of excessive energy loss deep within the low voltage grid.

Finally, what about cyber-crime, looking to steal energy and commit fraud, potentially on a national scale? Well, NES smart meters include industry leading cyber-security protection features, and augment this with threat detection and response – this is uniquely able to introduce real deterrents to the would-be attackers.

So, one size does not fit all. The specific needs of the smart energy transition in LATAM need to be addressed by the right choice of meter vendor.


Jon Wells - Vice President of Customer Solutions at NES

Other articles you may be interested in:

  1. Press release – Communications - Networked Energy Services Successfully Completes OSGP Smart Grid Project in Albania
  2. Article – Getting information from the LV grid - Survey Results - Feeding the Big Data and Artificial Intelligence “Information-Appetite” – From the Low-Voltage Grid
  3. White-paper – Communicating in the Worlds Challenging Environment 
  4. Case-study – PREPA – “Lights out” - Lights Out: The Storm of the Century