Understanding Smart Metering and LoRaWAN® Interoperability Standards in the EU
LoRaWAN, with the support of key metering standards DLMS and M-bus, is now a key component to compliance and interoperability among smart metering vendors for European utilities.
With the new ruling adopted June 6, 2023, by the European Commission on “interoperability requirements and non-discriminatory and transparent procedures” for access to smart metering and consumption data, the European Union (EU) has taken a significant step towards enhancing energy efficiency and promoting transparency in the electricity sector. While these regulations aim to empower consumers and facilitate a greener, more sustainable energy future, they also acknowledge the challenges of interoperability while highlighting the numerous benefits of granting consumers access to this valuable information.
One of the key challenges faced in implementing these regulations is ensuring interoperability between various energy data systems. With a diverse range of energy suppliers and technologies operating across the EU, harmonizing data collection and reporting processes can be complex. Recognizing this challenge, the European Union (EU) underscores the importance of establishing consistent standards and protocols to facilitate the seamless exchange and compatibility of metering and consumption data across diverse systems. As a matter of fact, in Europe, most of the existing deployments in smart metering are using two key metering standards DLMS and M-bus.
Navigating the Challenges of Interoperability in Smart Metering
The adoption of these rules follows an intensive development phase and consultation process with the relevant stakeholders to ensure the new rules cover all the necessary issues and are workable in practice. Under these new rules, consumers should be able to get easy access to their metering data and give permission for data on their energy consumption or generation to be used by third parties in ways which benefit them. As such the aim is to provide consumer protections while at the same time empowering them to be active participants in the energy transition.
Deciphering the Impact of New Rules on Consumers and the Energy Market
Consumers can expect various benefits from these advancements, including the ability to compare their energy usage with peers, evaluate prices from different suppliers, and stimulate competition in the energy retail market. This encourages the development of innovative and efficient energy solutions like demand side management and the integration of renewable energy sources, ultimately leading to cost reduction and improved service quality. In addition to benefiting individual consumers, the new regulations have broader implications for the energy sector as a whole and are a significant milestone in the EU's efforts to create a more transparent, efficient, and consumer-oriented energy market.
The European Commission reports the new rules as the first of a number of such regulations that will be put in place in the next two years in order to facilitate the interoperability of energy consumer data. Subsequent regulations will focus on data relating to customer switching, demand response and other services.
By addressing the challenge of interoperability, the EU aims to promote fair competition, facilitate energy market integration, and empower consumers with comprehensive information to make informed decisions.
Unraveling the Future of Energy Consumer Data Interoperability
By enacting these rules, the EU is trying to tackle smart metering interoperability issues across the Member States. Interoperability is a multi-dimensional and increasingly cross-sector issue. The electricity sector is not the only sector dealing with interoperability questions. Other sectors having the same need for interoperability are the healthcare and public administration. Some other ecosystems such as the electromobility and the building management sectors are expecting access to metering and consumption data for an easier integration and management of electrical recharging stations, microgrids with solar panels, and battery storage.
Moreover, data privacy and security aspects are prevalent topics as they are often limiting factors for implementing interoperable solutions of any kind. Other aspects that have an impact on smart metering interoperability are, for example, the lack of consent mechanisms, the granularity of data collected to ensure adequate communication, and the roles and responsibilities of the entities managing and processing the data. Therefore, the new rules focus on defining a common reference model with roles and responsibilities between different parties.
The Five Layers Model: A Solution for Interoperability
The adopted principle is a five layers model separating a common reference model, to ensure interoperability on European level, and a national model based on a list of standards.
The common reference model consists of a collection of reference procedures for data access and the necessary information exchanges between the various roles performed by market players. Its focus is on the business function and information layers of interoperability, with the other two layers – communication and component – able to be determined at a national level in accordance with local specificities and practices.
The reference model describes the workflows that are required for specific services and processes based on a minimum set of requirements to ensure that a given procedure can run correctly, while allowing for national customization.
This framework is composed of a ‘role model’ with a set of roles/responsibilities and their interactions; an ‘information model’ that contains information objects, their attributes, and the relationships between these objects; and a ‘process model’ detailing the procedural steps. The model also is technology-neutral and not directly tied to any specific implementation details.
In a period of 24 to 36 months (for member states still under transition to adopt smart metering), each member state will have to report their national reference model and practices with procedures to access data and exchange between market players. As listed in the Annex of the implementing act, a national model can use one of the approved standards for metering data exchange:
- EN 62056 series – DLMS /COSEM
- EN 13757 series – Wired and Wireless M-bus
- EN 50491-11
- EN 16836 – Zigbee SEP 1.1
While the first two standards are major references for smart metering, the second two standards are a norm for the home and building electronic systems, respectively. EN 50491-11 is used to abstract metering data with external consumer display and EN 16836 is used for wireless mesh networking in meter data exchange (although Zigbee is only used for short range and never in wide area network).
The positive development is that LoRaWAN, as a prominent LPWAN technology, is well-equipped to support the DLMS and M-bus standards mandated by this new set of rules being adopted in Europe. But, the impact is not limited to electricity metering in Europe, as typically these key standards have spread worldwide and address smart metering of all kinds globally: electricity, water, gas and heat as well.
The Role of LoRaWAN and Key Standards in Smart Metering
M-bus and DLMS are key standards that the Semtech LoRa Basics Modem software framework can support on many LoRa hardware platforms. The Meter OEMs can use this Semtech LoRa software and hardware platform to support the official adaptation layers required for M-bus and DLMS applications.
Existing implementations and demonstrations have been proven with partners and explained in this Smart Metering with LoRa Basics Modem webinar.
Semtech and the LoRa Alliance Pioneering Smart Utilities
The LoRa Alliance has defined the necessary IPv6 adaptation layer to enable the support of the DLMS profile in LoRaWAN. Following this achievement, the DLMS association submitted the new profile to standardization bodies. After thorough review and voting, both the European Normalization (EN) and the International Electrotechnical Committee (IEC) have standardized the DLMS profile for LoRaWAN, referencing it as EN 62056-8-12 for the European Norm and IEC 62056-8-12 for the international IEC standard.
The Future of Smart Metering with LoRaWAN and the New EU Rules
In addition to the aforementioned efforts, the LoRa Alliance and OMS have collaborated to define the M-bus Adaptation Layer (MBAL) for LoRaWAN. This collaboration, which began in 2019, resulted in the validation of technical report TR06 by OMS. Following a comprehensive review and voting process in 2023, the European Normalization Committee (CEN) has officially standardized and extended the M-bus Adaptation Layer (MBAL) for third-party networks, referencing it as EN 13757-8:2023. Among LPWAN technologies, LoRaWAN stands as the pioneering use case to achieve this significant milestone, as verified by OMS and showcased during the public event of ENLIT by the LoRa Alliance in 2021.
Utilities can now require in their smart metering tenders the use of these reference standards with LoRaWAN in order to be compliant with the direction given by this new rule. By incorporating LoRaWAN and support of these new standards, you can ensure compliance with the new regulations and benefit from enhanced interoperability, seamless integration, and future-proof solutions. Take action now to drive innovation in the industry and create a more efficient and compliant future for your utilities.
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