China Is Stingy With Smart Meter Orders

China electric grid smart grid

China plans on plowing hundreds of billions of dollars into smartening its grid, Bloomberg reports. Despite their ambitious spending plans, the PRC won’t overpay for its smart metering products, says Greentech Media:

ZigBee and mesh networking are winning favour with utilities in the U.S. In Sweden and some other European countries, however, concrete construction is somewhat common, which creates potential problems with maintaining a signal via ZigBee from inside the house to an external transmitter, said Meera Balakrishnan, Freescale’s Global Segment Leader for Building Control. Partly as a result, power-line networking has been adopted in many areas in Europe, including the 30 million meter network owned by Enel in Italy.

And in China, the issue is cost. “They are looking at sub-1GHz,” she said. “We are talking cents” for radios for meters, she added.

To that end, the chip company – formerly the silicon wing of Motorola – is showing off new products and demos at MeteringChina in Beijing. The products range in a spectrum, depending upon the communications systems required by a utility and whether the silicon will be used to monitor silicon, but also water and gas. One chip, for instance, combines an 8 bit microprocessor, a tiny bit of flash and an LCD driver for remote meter reading.

An AMR (automated meter reading) meter in China might have to sell for $26 to $60. A similar meter in U.S. or Europe might go for $82 to $120, depending on the capability. Potentially, a very basic meter that can be read “remotely” by someone in a nearby car with a radio receiver could be built for $10 in China.


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