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EETE JULAUG 2013

residential buildings in 2013. At the European level, the Grid4EU large-scale demonstration project brings together a consortium of six European energy distributors (ERDF, Enel Distribuzione, Iberdrola, CEZ Distribuce, Vattenfall Eldistribution and RWE) to test the potential of smart grids in areas such as renewable energy integration, electric vehicle development, grid automation, energy storage, energy efficiency and load reduction. Six demonstrators will be tested over a period of four years (ending in 2016) in each of the European countries represented in the consortium. One of the demonstrators currently in progress is Nice Grid (in Carros, South of France), regrouping 1 500 end-customers. It explores renewable energy generation with 200 solar rooftops, integrates 100 batteries equivalent to 2MWh of storage capacity, and implements load curtailment with smart home equipment. Such large-scale projects help utility providers to test new forecast algorithms and figure out ways to reduce consumption levels during peak demand. Founded in 2011 and spun-off from Minatec, Vesta-System markets its analytical software solution, VestaEnergy, Vesta System’s dynamic software solution for interconnected buildings provides accurate and individualized energy optimisation choices. to help office and residential building promoters anticipate future energy management needs. The dynamic software solution not only addresses the dynamics of real time energy metering and smart home connected sensors, it also brings into the equation weather conditions and predictions, energy price fluctuations and availability (distant, local and ultra-local sources in the case of connected buildings) to offer more accurate and individualized energy optimisation choices (not just routine energy profiles). The tool will be a central piece of the urban project Lyon Confluence 2 which will include 16000m² of private apartments and social housings. All the new occupants will be given access to their energy-consumption data through a digital tablet in order to better control their energy consumption according to their comfort zone (with the usual incentives for self-effacement). A dedicated communication network for the IoT Now to communicate their data, most of the smart meters and sensors spread out in these buildings could rely on ZigBee, an Ethernet connection to a local broadband access, sometimes a Power Line Communication link, a GSM module, an existing WiFi spot or some other proprietary RF link. For low data throughput applications such as sensor messaging and remote smart metering, these technologies are overkill according to Ludovic Le Moan, CEO of Sigfox, a company that recently celebrated the first anniversary of what it claims to be the world’s first low-power cellular infrastructure dedicated to the Internet of-Things. Sifgfox’ technology builds upon ultra narrow band radio, combined with software defined radio techniques performed at base stations level to achieve a very high sensitivity for very long distance communications (from and 3 to 10km in urban areas, 30 to 50km in rural areas and over 1000km for outdoor objects sending messages in line of sight). The company offers its network services for as little as a dollar per year for the collection of IoT-emitted data (from any smart object equipped with the Sigfox radio) and for processing and routing it via the cloud to any third party application. One example the company gives is its partnership with MAF Assurances, a leading French insurance company which will rely on the Sigfox network to offer fire and/ or intrusion alert services to its customers directly through SMS. For now, Sigfox’ network covers France, but the company has big plans for expansion in Europe. By operating separately from traditional cellular networks, this IoT network infrastructure has the potential to save hundreds of megawatt/ hour in a world with billions of connected objects, says the company. Sigfox’ low data throughput IoT network infrastructure could prove more economical than traditionnal carriers. 8 Electronic Engineering Times Europe July/August 2013 www.electronics-eetimes.com


EETE JULAUG 2013
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