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Written by Eugen Mayer
Germany has become a pioneer in the concept of the smart city and has created the E-Energy funding program, which links energy-saving technologies with communications systems, and has resulted in a series of trial smart cities across the country. Broadband power lines (BPL) have become the preferred communications technology for E-Energy deployments. Leading the field is Mannheim, which is Germany's first smart city. It is using BPL to connect every household in the city to its cutting-edge smart energy network. The ‘Model City of Mannheim’ (MoMa) project focuses on integrating a high load of intermittent energy sources and decentralized generation into the existing city grid in a bid to boost efficiency and raise awareness of renewable energy amongst consumers. It is hoped that the MoMa project will encourage the public to take personal responsibility for their power consumption.
The first households are already benefiting from new technologies including the 'Energy Butler' gateway, which monitors the grid to obtain real-time pricing information from the utility and connects many household appliances including dishwashers, fridges, and tumble dryers. The gateway then relays dynamic pricing information back to the consumer, giving them greater control over their energy consumption, as well as relieving stress on the grid by shifting the use of certain appliances to off-peak periods. Business and industrial clients are also connecting their cooling facilities and air conditioning systems to the project.
The MoMa project is being run on a BPL platform provided by Power Plus Communications (PPC). PPC is also giving its backing to other pioneering projects within Mannheim, including various smart metering solutions, and a distributed and micro generation project. The company's BPL system is being used to enable the use of CCTV video surveillance to protect installations and assets across the city, and for public lighting control. Elsewhere in Germany E.ON Westfalen Weser is using PPC's BPL system on medium voltage cables connecting substations as part of smart grid trials within its network of 1.3 million people. An average bandwidth of more than 13 Mbps with 24 ms latency has been achieved at the 20 kV level. The Cisco smart grid routers and switches being used in the project have proven highly compatible with the BPL networks, providing a real cost advantage over fiber optics - which can be much more expensive where there are no pre-existing cables.
Eugen Mayer, COO of Power Plus Communications