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Yukitoki Tsukamoto Toshihiro Inoue Satoshi Kurosawa

Power Grid System Dept.

Mitsubishi Electric Corporation
Kamakura City, Kanagawa Pref. JAPAN

Abstract In Japan, all the utility companies corroborate with

In order to realize more efficient electricity supply the system integrators in order to develop the smart
system, smart grid technologies, which are driven by metering infrastructures. The system integrators have
the collaboration between power system technology to provide the smart meter devices as well as
and information and communication technology, are communication network, head-end system (HES)
indispensable. One of these technologies is the smart and meter data management systems (MDMS) in
metering infrastructure, which play a big role order to accommodate the large number of meters.
especially in the field of retail supply and In this paper, our fundamental and practical
distribution network modernization. technologies to introduce the large scale smart
This paper describes the overview of smart metering metering system are described. The paper focuses on
infrastructure and its applications developed so as to the complexity of the communication network
meet the current and future requirements. composed of radio frequency, power line carrier, and
mobile. We also describe a large scale data
Keywords: smart meter, smart grid, two way concentration and processing in head-end and
communication, head end system, meter data management MDMS solution. In the same time, we refer to IEC,
system, IPv6 IEEE and Echonet (Open Protocol for Home
Network) standard which are applied in order to
guarantee a multivendor environment. Further, we
1. INTRODUCTION will show the typical system integration example of
Smart meter system is expected to be the innovative large scale smart metering system for a utility
and essential tool for the demand side management company in Japan.
for electricity supply industry. The two way
communication implemented to the advanced
metering infrastructure allows not only the supply 2. JAPANESE ELECTRICITY SUPPLY
side to obtain detail information of demand side in SYSTEM AND REQURIEMENT FOR
the real time and but also the demand side to get the SMART METER INFRUSTRUCTURE
proper information for the optimal energy usage. As Japanese electric industry is facing the regulatory
a result, smart metering infrastructure contributes to reform to promote the further competitive
optimally dispatch of energy in a competitive environment for electric energy supply system in
environment. The characteristics needed for the two- order to not only promote more efficient operation
way communication of smart metering system but also accommodate the variety of energy
includes high coverage rate to meter devices, which resources including photovoltaic, wind, and battery
are widely spread out to the field, light weight storage.
infrastructure to communicate with the least cost, Currently, 10 utility companies operate from
and high performance for data exchange. These are generation through transmission and distribution to
the equivalent requirement of IoT (Internet of retail supply in the vertically integrated structure,
Things) environment through IPv6. however retail market is already partially opened for
Utilities in Japan have already started to deploy large medium and high voltage contracts. From 2016, all
scale smart metering infrastructures and will the customers including the residential contracts can
complete the installation of meters until 2024. This choose the retail supplier by themselves. As the next
deployment will make IPv6 networking a real step, transmission and distribution will be unbundled
communication solution for a total of 80 million and operated in the independent regulated firm. The
meter devices. The main functions of the Japanese unbundling process is expected to be concluded in
smart metering infrastructure includes meter reading 2020.
of 30-minutes electricity consumption data in every This reform is expected to increase the competition
30 minutes, remote connect and disconnect operation in the generation and retail electricity business.
for switch device embedded in the meter, and
demand response information exchange between
supply and demand side.
the national discussion among government,
academic and industries after the nuclear accident of
March 2011.
The total number of electricity contracts in Japan is
about 80 million, distributed between very large
utilities with more than 25 millions of customers and
medium size utility with few millions of customers.
The huge communication network is requested to
accommodate such a large number of meter devices.
The communication network to perform an efficient
metering function is the end-to-end network
composed of the field access network and wide area
network in the formation of hierarchical structure. In
order to realize the multi-vender condition for the
Fig.1 Electricity Industry Structure in Japan (Future) network, IPv6 based solution is applied for the
communication protocol of IEC and IEEE based data
In the competitive environment, all the retail
companies and energy services entities needs the
meter data of their own customers for contract 3. ARCITECURE FOR A SMART METER
management and billing. Moreover, from the SYSTEM
viewpoints of demand side management such as A smart metering infrastructure is a complex system
demand response, time dependent data is that applies the latest information and
indispensable for the fair, correct, and efficient communication technologies to allow smart and
operation of retail market. advanced operations related with the electric
On the other hand, in order to realize the operational industry business. Fig. 3 shows typical smart
improvement, the control function for electric metering system overview in Japan. The system is
devices such as remote connect/disconnect switch composed of following four parts. The first part is
should be expected in addition to the field data the metering node, in which electric meter calculates
collection. The use case model for smart meter energy consumption (kWh) and send it to the server
system is described in Fig. 2. system though the communication line. The second
part is the communication network which connects
Power System

the meter node to the server system. The
Concentrator Intelligent
communication network is composed of field access
Heating network and wide area network. The structure of the
Meter Battery
communication network is the most essential domain
Meter from the point of view of system performance, cost
effectiveness, and system scalability.
EV The third part is the server system, which has the
role of data collection, data management, network
control, and data interface function with the several
Fig.2 The use case model of Smart Metering System back office system including legacy. In this section,
the subsystems that compose the smart metering
The use case model is composed of three objectives. system are explained.
The first objective is the efficient operation and
maintenance of distribution area, the second is
flexible contraction switching for retail supply, and
the third one is the demand side management such as
flexible tariff, real time demand response, and
photovoltaic control. These objectives are the main
drives to promote the smart metering system
deployment. Following to the above mentioned
status, all the utility companies in Japan, which
currently operate generation,
transmission/distribution and retail supply are
requested to set up the smart metering infrastructure
to all the customers and complete the system
deployment until 2024. In 2020, this system will be Fig.3 Smart Metering System architecture
operated by independent transmission and
distribution entities. This plan is developed through 3.1 Metering node
Metering node is composed of meter device itself, areas and rural area where public mobile network or
switch equipment, and communication module. PLC technology may be preferable. The detail
Meter device measures physical amount of ampere discussion on multi hop technology, which is the
and voltage, and calculate energy and energy dominant method for field access network of smart
consumption data and phase angle of the electrical metering infrastructure are illustrated in Section 4.
flow on the feeder line. The formatted digital data is Regarding the WAN, it is important to optimize the
propagated to the utility center and consumer’s utilization of existing resources, trying to reduce the
in-house appliance in the same format. The installation of new network devices or network
communication route to the utility center is called cables as much as possible. For this reason a hybrid
“A”-route, and the route to the in-house is called network implemented on the private optical fiber,
“B”-route. Meter device is remotely accessed and its public optical services and mobile network services
data is retrieved through the communication module is an effective solution.
by “A”-route as well as “B”-route. “A”-route Server system which is composed of computer, data
communication is discussed in the next section. storage and network devices for data acquisition and
processing are commonly interconnected on a local
area network of utility center with consideration of
the required security policy.
Total network design and implementation for the
above mentioned FAN, WAN, and LAN is
indispensable so as to realize the performance,
affordability, and the scalability.
The authors are proposing and implementing a total
network infrastructure on the described IPv6
protocol. The IPv6 ensures high performance for the
current application and flexibility to integrate future
functions and devices expanding the network to the
Fig.4 Meter Node (Meter device and communication Internet of things (IoT).
module of A-route and B-route)

3.3 Server system

3.2 Communication Network Server systems have to accommodate the huge
The communication network is a fundamental part in number of data which are pushed from the field of
the smart metering infrastructure. Metering node and utility supply area.
server systems exchange some information through a Data acquired from meters and data/signal sent to
complex network topology. meters are created, processed, stored and supplied to
Three main networks compose the total other business systems by a complex hardware and
communication infrastructure. software infrastructure generally composed by two
main sub-systems: the head-end system and the
- Field Access Network (FAN) meter data management system.
- Wide Area Network (WAN) The head-end system (HES) is supporting several
- Local Area Network for server side (LAN) fundamental functions including data acquisition,
data broadcasting and control for single meter. In
In terms of the network topology, the communication addition, the network management and security
infrastructure is built on various technologies: RF control should be implemented in order to ensure the
(Radio Frequency), PLC (Power line Carrier), and stable and secured communication. The HES is a
public mobile network for a field access network mission critical part of the smart meter infrastructure,
(FAN), Optical fibers, metal and LTE (Long Term therefore completely redundant system is required
Evolution) for the wide area network (WAN), with a physical back-up location for disaster
Ethernet for the local area network (LAN). recovery plan.
The design and implementation of network structure The meter data management system (MDMS) is the
based upon the above mentioned technologies is system that process, validate, edit and properly store
fundamental to ensure a robust, stable and cost the data acquired by the HES. A validation,
effective communication between metering nodes estimation and editing has to be an automated
and server system. Electric meters can be installed in function that reduce the needs to control and revise
diversified environments with peculiar conditions gap or missed meter data.
that have to be considered during the decision of the In addition to the data provided by the HES, the
communication technologies. Basically the MDMS has to process data acquired manually in the
multi-hop technology with the radio frequency is field or using mobile devices in order to prepare the
preferable for a cost effective communication but it complete field data for billing.
may decrease the coverage performance for remote The MDMS is also the system that interfaces with
other systems such as customer information system Server
(CIS), asset management system, electricity billing
system and so forth. IP network Concentrator
In a competitive retail market, the MDMS also has to
interface with all the retail companies operating in
the distribution area and has to be able to supply the Concentrator
meter data in a timely manner to ensure to make the
retail companies supply to meet the contracted
demand, and also bill electricity consumer precisely.
Communication node
To ensure the multi-vender environment, a standard, (Meter device)
flexible and low cost implementation of interface is
strongly recommended. Fig.6 Function of Multi Hopping
Fig. 5 is a simplified illustration of smart metering
The on demand based AODV routing method is
applied to reduce the network traffic, to optimize the
Head End MDMS
Method Common
Dependency part Part
network topology and to realize the suitable control
Grid Connection Platform

Optical Collect
Load Balancer

Wireless Multihop
Concentrator communication

Multihop Meter Data

MDMS for meter node.
Topology among nodes should be optimally
1:N Wireless Telecommunication 1:N Event Data
Carrier Network
PLC PLC Set up
configured based upon the evaluation function, in


which the hop numbers on the root to the

IEC 61968
CIM Model
concentrator is minimized and choose the stable
communication path.
Fig. 5 System configuration with global standard
4.2 System performance
4. MULTI HOP TECHNOLOGY WITH The performance is shown by communication
RADIO FREQUENCY throughput, scalability and backup response on
disaster operation. These are largely affected by the
4.1 Overview field condition and the system structure.
Fig.7 represents the throughput of end-to-end on
The radio frequency based multi hop technology is several frequency levels. For the frequency level of
the dominant media which is applied to field access 920MHz, the response time (link by link) is about
network in order to realize the high coverage rate 10msec, and the performance is linearly correlated
with the required system performance and cost with the number of hops, so the response time in
effectiveness. case of 10 hops system is 100msec for end to end
The multi hop communication technology was communication.
originally researched and developed as sensor
network technology. This technology is suitable for

sensing something in the field for domain condition
monitoring. Because the data packet of field data is  /*\

relatively small and same kinds data is periodically T 


retrieved, it is a light-weight communication for the 
least cost construction and operation.
The characteristic of multi hop technology is as 


- Long distance communication through hopping
- Avoiding obstruction through hopping Fig.7 System Performance
- Self healing with redundancy and On the other hand, the total number of nodes which a
rerouting mechanism single concentrator has to cover is required to be
large as much as possible. From a system point of
view, a concentrator, which has interfaces with a
large number of meter nodes, allows to create and
infrastructure easy to be constructed and cost
effective. Unfortunately the number of nodes for
concentrator is inversely correlated with the network
performance. Therefore, the number of nodes on
single concentrator has to be decided considering the
operational responses of the smart meter 5. FUTURE ENHANSMENT
infrastructure that follows, The smart metering system which is discussed in this
paper is expected to be the communication
- 30 min data retrieval infrastructure that can be applied to several future
- on/off control on demand functionality of an advanced distribution network
- firmware down load for all the node infrastructure.
It is recognized as the fundamental IoT (Internet of
In the actual operation, the average number of hops Things), because the system is based upon IP v6
is about 5 or 6 due to the frequency field condition, open protocol and provides the vender free solution.
even though the number of hops is theoretically The distribution network in the electricity supply
infinite. system accommodates not only the distribution
operational equipment but also distributed electricity
sources such as renewable generation and electric
4.3 Experimental results storage system. The number of this equipment would
We make a lot of field test for multi hop technology be large and is manufactured by different venders.
in order to realize the optimal design before the Distributed electricity sources need be monitored
practical deployment for Japanese utility industry. and controlled to ensure the power system stability
Fig.8 represents the example of large scale multi hop and to maintain good electricity supply condition.
communication with 1,000 meter devices for a single The huge number of data associated with distributed
concentrator. The test bed was in operation for more source can be gathered and stored in a reasonable
than 5 years. During this period, several parameters manner utilizing the smart meter infrastructure. This
such us number of hops, number of nodes for big data should be analyzed and the results
concentrator, optimal position of the concentrator contribute to the distribution asset management.
could be discovered and retested.
It was also noticed that geographical understanding
of the location of meter and network devices such as 6. SUMMARY
the concentrator is important from the operational This paper describes the smart metering
viewpoints. For this reason the system should be infrastructure which is developed in order to be
integrated with a GIS (geographic information satisfied with the current utility requirement and
system) as described in Fig. 9. respond to future needs.
The smart meter infrastructure is composed from
electric meter device, communication, and server
system. All the part should be cooperatively
functionalized and operated.

[1] The Introduction of Smart Grid Demonstration
System, Mitsubishi Electric News Release Feb.2011
[2] Metering System by using Wireless Mesh
Network Technology, Yoshihiko Shirokura, etc.,
Technical Journal “Smart Grid” Oct., 2012
Fig.8 Experimental Result

Fig.9 Field Example