Thursday, 6 November 2008

Swansea University develops advanced Smart Electricity Meters

The Power Electronics team from Swansea University's School of Engineering has developed what is being described as one of the world's most advanced Smart Electricity Meters.

The team, based within the Electronic Systems Design Centre, is currently supplying nearly 1.5MWh per year of free `Green electricity' to the University.

The project is one of a number of Welsh Assembly Government Knowledge Exploitation Fund research projects being undertaken in Wales and facilitated by the Welsh Energy Research Centre (WERC) to ensure Wales is at the forefront of current energy technologies.

The team implemented their prototype Smart Meter to highlight the potential of electricity metering technologies. Termed as the focal point for consumers' personal energy queries, the Smart Meter monitors energy consumption, giving information not just through a traditional power reading, but in a user-friendly way by displaying animated graphics of money on a large clear screen on the meter, according to the University. Plus, it monitors individual power circuits, including upstairs lighting, downstairs lighting and kitchen sockets.

The University added that the team believes there is also the possibility to monitor individual appliances when the technology is adopted further. The presentation of consumption information is complemented by the ability to show power generated from micro-renewable technologies in a 'plug and play' manner, similar to the wind turbine currently commercially available, and generic solar panels.

The Smart Meter is linked to a number of solar panels on the roof of the University's Engineering building through a power converter. The power delivered from the solar panels is monitored within the meter to allow the 'Green energy' produced to be reviewed in an easy to understand way. This allows clear indications whether the renewable technology has been a beneficial purchase and the likely financial performance from the initial investment.

The meter also has communication abilities, allowing the readings of power consumption and generation to be instantly available to the supplier and to the consumer via web pages, wireless in-home displays, or potentially even a television channel.

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