Gridspertise and STM target smart meters in USA

  • February 8, 2023
  • Steve Rogerson

An alliance between Italian company Gridspertise and Swiss firm ST Microelectronics announced at this week’s Distributech in California aims to empower active smart-meter customers in the USA and other geographies.

This will see STM’s direct power line communication (PLC) channel for the home included in Gridspertise’s smart meters for the US market, enabling end customers to take an active role in the energy market and integrating distributed renewable sources as well as smart energy-management systems.

Gridspertise supports distribution system operators worldwide in accelerating the digital transformation of electricity grids, and STM is a semiconductor company serving customers across the spectrum of electronics applications.

They announced at Distributech that they have entered a new phase of their long-term collaboration on smart-meter technologies.

The two companies’ collaboration started in the early 2000s with one of Gridspertise’s shareholders Enel; today more than 65 million Gridspertise smart meters deployed in Spain, Eastern Europe and Latin America leverage the PLC technologies provided by STM.

Moreover, STM’s latest PLC system-on-chip has been integrated in Gridspertise smart meters for Italy to enable a near real-time cyber-secure communication channel for in-home devices; the so-called Chain 2 technology.

Now, Gridspertise and STM are working together to extend Chain 2 to new metering products in the Gridspertise portfolio, making it suitable for the USA and other geographies.

For end customers, Chain 2 technology improves awareness of the energy consumed and self-produced. It enables a multitude of enhanced services that simplify their energy usage through home automation. Chain 2 technology encourages a more active role for all the players in the energy market, as well as the penetration of distributed renewable sources.

For example, the technology recommends to the end customer tailor-made options based on real-time data production from its own generation system, such as installing photovoltaic panels. It also enables the smart meter to collect real-time data on home appliances’ consumption that can be used, for example, to modulate the charging power of an EV charger according to the available capacity and other demands for power in the house.

Furthermore, Gridspertise and STM are collaborating in multiple other areas. Beyond working on an Ansi C communication standard for the US market, the companies are cooperating for the adoption of the latest DLMS-certified standards in Gridspertise smart meters, to enhance interoperability and interchangeability between devices and systems.

“Working together with other key industry leaders is fundamental to accelerating grid digitalisation and to promoting an active role for end users in the energy transition,” said Gianni Ceneri, chief technology officer at Gridspertise. “We are pleased to strengthen our strategic collaboration with STM leveraging shared best practices for the development of innovations to serve an ever-increasing number of markets and bring benefits to new customers, starting from the USA where Gridspertise is enhancing its activities through its North American platform to better support power grid operators and utilities in the region.”

Domenico Arrigo, a general manager at STM, added: “We are maintaining and enhancing our connection as a key technology provider for Gridspertise services, and with them delivering smart and sustainable grids that are robust, secure, resilient and reliable.”

This latest step in the collaboration suits Gridspertise’s mission to deliver sustainable and reliable smart grids, which is timely in the current US context, where new federal policies have unleashed a wave of investment in energy transition and grid modernisation. Together, STM and Gridspertise are unlocking the penetration of flexible and distributed sustainable energy sources and the active participation of end customers through increasingly digitalised grids.

Both companies have branches in the USA to engage with tech companies, power grid operators, policy makers and regulators directly.

Gridspertise offers grid intelligent devices, end-to-end cloud-edge platforms and services to accelerate the digital transformation of electricity distribution grids across metering and grid edge, network infrastructure and field operation digitalisation. The portfolio is designed as an open ecosystem, easy to integrate with distribution system operators’ existing infrastructure, combining intelligent and automated grid devices with ready-to-use modular applications, running at central level as well as on the edge.

The company was set up in 2021 as a carve-out of Enel’s twenty-year-long experience in developing, testing and scaling up digital technologies to transform legacy distribution networks into smart grids.

The company has inherited an intellectual property portfolio of more than 430 patents and combines its expertise in grid digitalisation with products from technology partners to tackle the digitalisation needs of the energy market. Gridspertise works with more than 50 distribution system operators of different sizes and across different geographies and delivered over five million intelligent devices in 2022.

The company is headquartered in Italy with subsidiaries in Spain, Brazil, India and the USA. Target markets include Europe, Latin America and North America, expanding towards Asia-Pacific and Africa, where investments in power grids should soon  drive infrastructure upgrade projects.