Thames Water extends smart meter trial


Thames Water extends smart meter trial

Karl Flinders

Thames Water is extending a trial of technology to establish the effectiveness of the communications network used to send messages between smart meters and utility firms.

The company is working with a collaboration of Arqiva, BT, BAE Systems, Detica and Sensus, known as SmartReach, which is using long-range radio communications networks for connecting smart water meters.

The trial, currently in the Reading area, will now include London. The extension will test the communications network in a different urban environment.

SmartReach has been running trials with Scottish Power, SSE and Thames Water to demonstrate the suitability of long-range radio for dedicated smart meter communications, for energy as well as for water networks.

It is essential that utility companies can connect smart meters to the network first time, and that communication can be established with all meters, if the government’s plan to adopt smart metering is to succeed. 

In its GB Smart Metering Implementation Programme the government plans to put 53 million smart meters in homes and businesses in the UK by 2019 as part of a programme to reduce energy consumption. But it could face a major challenge in the face of concerns about the safety of smart meters in the home and the potential invasion of privacy.

While the installation of smart water meters has not been mandated by UK government, the trial with Thames Water will help to evaluate the benefits such a system could provide to the operation of a water network. Widely deployed in the US, where more than nine million smart meter and grid endpoints are connected to long-range radio based networks from Sensus, the technology has been shown to be suitable for meters located in hard-to-reach locations such as meter pits, cellars and basements.

“As water becomes an increasingly precious resource, smart water metering will play a critical role in helping the water industry to better manage consumption and leakage,” said Piers Clark, commercial director at Thames Water.

“Based on the current trial with SmartReach in Reading, we believe that long-range radio offers a simple, quick, non-obtrusive and efficient means of building a smart water meter network. The system promises far more available data on water flows that will help Thames Water to manage consumer demand and pinpoint leakages. Extending the scope of the trial to London will provide further valuable data.”

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