Smart Meter: SIM cards are part of the energy transition

Published on 10/06/2022 in Customer Stories

Smart Meter: SIM cards are part of the energy transition

As part of the energy transition, Wallonia is rolling out its Smart Meter project that will enable Arewal to collect and process energy flow data. Focus on the solution: smart meters equipped with Proximus SIM cards.

One of the objectives of network managers who are encouraged by Europe is to devise a better way to guarantee network reliability and offer a new ecosystem of services to consumers.

Arewal, which groups together the intermunicipal companies AIESH, AIEG, and the Régie de Wavre, has already decided that the smart meter will be the cornerstone of a new era of energy management. Some of the initial gains for the distribution system operators or DSOs are fewer costs for meter readings, calibrations or fraud. Not to mention the data that will be used to optimize the network and perhaps even improve synergy between managers.

Smart meters mean better visibility of network capacity as well as real-time management for the consumer.

Sylvain Filon, CEO of Arewal

author

Smart meters and SIM cards

The change is strategic. To ensure that the most optimal choice was made, the specifications were put in the hands of Arewal. Arewal is a cooperative founded in 2015 that manages all IT contracts and carries out contracts in relation to the DSO’s operations. "Our choice was Smart Meter. In our view, this is a high-performance technology based on communicating meters equipped with a SIM card. Proximus offered us the best quality-price ratio for the connectivity part, the most appropriate network coverage and, above all, the 'cockpit' for unparalleled centralized card management," explains Sylvain Filon, Arewal's CEO.

Technical, economic and regulatory issues

Europe is making smart meters mandatory. In Belgium, it are the regional governments who are responsible for rolling this out and the deadline for Sylvain and his teams is set for January 1, 2023. "This mandate stimulates the energy transition and the collection of remote data. Technically, this means better visibility of the network's capacity, but the consumer gains real-time management and access to our web portal. In short, everyone is looking forward to this.”

"We always say that the cheapest energy is the one we don't consume and Arewal's CEO reminds us that the consumer must play an active role in their own energy consumption and in the future market model."

Thanks to the Explore network, the three sites benefit from a powerful network that does not compromise on its guaranteed data security.

Sylvain Filon, CEO of Arewal

20,000 meters by 2025

The collaboration between Arewal and Proximus should enable the deployment of 900 meters by January 1, 2023. This will be followed by a further 6,000 meters over the course of the year. By 2025, the remaining 20,000 will be deployed. Each SIM card delivered by Proximus is soldered to the meter when the modem is assembled. "This allows for a longer lifespan, less handling during installation and remote disconnection. Just like the modem for people with electrosensitivity."

State-of-the-art connectivity and data security

For Sylvain, one challenge to be solved remained: insufficient redundancy between the AIESH, AIEG and Régie de Wavre sites. Proximus had already been faced with this issue in the context of the implementation of smart meters. "Thanks to the private and secure Explore network, the three sites benefit from a powerful network that does not compromise on its guaranteed data security."

The fiber that connects the intermunicipal companies and the security layer provided by the Explore solution are part of the conditions for the success of this unprecedented deployment in Wallonia. The protection of privacy remains a priority. "This is a delicate operation that users and prosumers may find intrusive and that some might object to it. The Proximus connectivity solution allows us to tackle this change with complete peace of mind."

Sylvain Filon has spent almost his entire career in the energy sector. He spent many years working at ALE (Association Liégeoise d'Electricité), which has now become RESA. Following work on fiber optics between 2011 and 2014, he mainly dealt with the energy liberalization market. Since 2020, he has been head of the Arewal cooperative company.

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