The adoption of smart electricity metering is happening fast in India, driven in large part by widespread power theft and inefficiencies in the country’s energy infrastructure. According to some studies, as much as 20 percent of the electricity generated in India is stolen. And besides the massive economic consequences, illegally tapping into a community power supply is an exceedingly dangerous way to keep the lights on. As a result, India’s government launched the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) program in 2015 with the purpose of modernizing the country’s energy grid. It’s an ambitious plan with a goal of replacing 250 million conventional electricity meters with smart meters.
Smart Meters Bring Transparency and Efficiency to Providers and Consumers in India
Real-time monitoring, tamper detection, and automated billing are a few of the benefits smart metering offers that can curb electricity loss. The ability to measure electricity consumption and transmit that data to the utility company in real-time eliminates the need for manual meter readings, reducing the risk of human error and potential for tampering. This also provides a more accurate view of energy consumption so utility companies can identify instances of energy theft quickly and take necessary action. Today’s smart meters are also equipped with secure communication systems that prevent unauthorized access to meter data and minimize the risk of tampering. This reduces the instances of energy theft and increase revenue collection for the utility companies. Taken together, it’s easy to see why India places such an emphasis on bringing greater transparency and efficiency to their power distribution infrastructure.
To select an integrated wireless MCU and transceiver solution that could keep pace with performance and size trends and support India’s requirements to use Wi-SUN for smart meter communications.
The combination MCU/transceiver package delivers performance and networking for long-range, low-power transmissions, and saves cost and development time that a custom solution would require.
Wi-SUN and Its Role in Advancing Smart Metering Adoption
Implementing smart utility projects is not an easy task. Data needs to be transmitted quickly and reliably over very long distances and between components - like grid management systems and the meters themselves. Wi-SUN has been developed specifically for these types of projects and its popularity is growing among utility companies, primarily due to its low-latency, high-reliability communications across large-scale deployments. Security is also a key concern in smart grid projects, and Wi-SUN provides comprehensive encryption and secure key management to protect against unauthorized access and has been chosen by the government of India as the preferred last mile wireless standard.
Utilities Embrace CyanConnode's Technology for Smart Grid Development
CyanConnode, a global leader in narrowband RF mesh networking, has been supporting India’s smart metering market for a decade. CyanConnode's technology provides a robust and scalable solution for this purpose, which has made it an attractive option for utilities and other organizations in India. CyanConnode's technology utilizes Wi-SUN to provide communication between smart meters and the central system, enabling utilities to collect real-time information about energy consumption and manage their networks more effectively. The use of Wi-SUN allows CyanConnode to provide a robust and scalable communication infrastructure for its smart meter networks, enabling utilities to deploy large-scale IoT networks with confidence.
The company originally designed the MCU at the heart of its platform through in-house development, but as the capabilities of MCUs advanced, the company made the decision to turn to a COTS solution. Silicon Labs offered an integrated solution that provided a monolithic MCU and a transceiver, and Silicon Labs’ track record of supporting and driving the Wi-SUN standard made it possible for CyanConnode to spend less time focused on complex and time-consuming radio design and more on its core mesh RF utility platform. CyanConnode is also utilizing Silicon Labs’ FAN certified Wi-SUN stack, which provides a comprehensive set of features including advanced security, mesh networking, and routing capabilities, further reducing development time and cost.
CyanConnode and the FG25 Sub-GHz SoC are Ready to Take on India’s Smart Metering Challenge
In Silicon Labs’ FG25 sub-GHz wireless SoC, CyanConnode has found a solution that meets its requirements for performance, cost, and supportability. And as metering solutions evolve, the meters themselves get more complex, and the expectations for what they are able to provide utility customers is increasing. The FG25 will scale with customer demand and expanding networks. Silicon Labs has worked closely with the Wi-SUN Alliance, became a member in 2016, and led the way in delivering Wi-SUN-certified solutions for the smart energy and smart city markets.
The FG25 integrates a sub-GHz radio transceiver, microcontroller, and memory, making it a compact and cost-effective solution with advanced security features including 128-bit AES encryption. These features, coupled with the development tools and software available with the certified Wi-SUN SDK, makes it an ideal choice for smart utility projects, where security and energy usage data have a direct impact on revenue. CyanConnode's use of the FG25 module enables the company to offer its customers a highly reliable and secure solution, and with Silicon Labs’ history of chip innovation and working with wireless standards, CyanConnode can deliver high-quality products that meet the stringent requirements of its customers now and in the future.
Silicon Labs is excited to have the FG25 be part of CyanConnode’s commitment to providing innovative and secure smart metering solutions in India and around the world.