London, UK. November 1, 2012 (EXCLUSIVE) — Maingate Solutions of Sweden and Germany’s incumbent telecom network operator, Deutsche Telekom (DT) have announced the launch of a CapEx-free roll-out of smart metering infrastructure.
M2M Now was the only publication in this sector invited to the Official Residence of the Swedish Ambassador, Ms Nicola Clase, to hear the challenging background to recent smart metering projects being described to an invited audience of 50 senior executives from utilities, regulators, and others involved in the delivery of energy and water services.
The partners insist that this initiative is unlike other announcements of leasing deals offered to energy and water utilities, which are described as purely financial agreements that fail to address the concern among utilities that smart meter roll-outs will simply add to their Capital Expenditure (CapEx) challenges.
Speaking at the event, Maingate’s CEO, Baard Eilertsen, said: “We don’t have 230,000 employees like Deutsche Telekom or 80,000 employees like E.ON (the Europe-wide utility and M2M partner of Maingate’s that also took part in the presentation) but we now manage 7.7 million energy users. We are a leader in the Nordic smart meter market, with more than 50% of smart meters in Sweden and now 20-30% of smart meters in Finland.”
Taking issue with comments from an earlier speaker, Eilertsen added, “Smart metering is a component that enables the smart grid to work and so it’s very important.”
Maingate works with integration partners including Cinterion, DT, embriq, E.ON, Kamstrup, Landis & Gyr, logica, Telvent (a Schneider Electric company), and Ziggy. “All of these have a vision of purpose beyond the product. This is about more than just bringing the technology or the brand to market,” said Eilertsen. “Everyone blamed banks in the current economic crisis yet surveys show that banks still have a higher approval rating than utilities.
“So we have an issue with credibility and reputation. Utilities want to make lives cleaner but nobody listens to them,” he added.
DT and Maingate have asked themselves whether, if they have access to real-time customer data, they can use it in a smart way to see how it can affect other parts of the utility business. Since utilities will not roll out the necessary smart meters, the partners can and will bring the results from the collected data to benefit the utility and the customer.
Spokesman, Robert Heiliger, project portfolio manager at E.ON Innovation Centre, agreed with Maingate that CapEx is one of the ‘pain points’ for utilities.
Eilertsen continued: “We want to lower the barrier to utilities in rolling out smart meters, and we’ll build jointly developed applications on top of that infrastructure. We come from the unregulated world – from the consumer-oriented side of the world – yet we’re co-funding a regulated infrastructure. We’re offering services on top like energy performance and contracting.”
Speaking to M2M Now after the announcement, Maingate’s deputy CEO, Patrik Bjorkman said, “Utilities only need one data point. Maingate and Deutsche Telekom will pay for four more data points and when we collect data from these utilities will benefit from balancing, feed-in and generation.”
Eilertsen summed up: “There’s at least a short-term opportunity here to create more value on top of this roll-out. It won’t last forever, of course. In the energy supply industry we’ve spent 100 years telling customers to sit back and relax because we’ve got this energy provision business covered. Now we’re urgently telling customers to get interested in their own energy supply. It will take a lot to change customer behaviour and they’ll need to see a benefit in doing so.”