Press release

Smart Grid / 17.10.2012

devolo concludes comprehensive field test: G3-PLC becomes an integral component of the smart grid


Currently, the energy grids are developing in a decentralised structure, which requires a new form of communication between producers and consumers. Together with Vattenfall Europe Metering GmbH, devolo AG has implemented a workable concept for data communication in the smart grid and tested it successfully in the scope of a comprehensive field test. The result: G3-PLC is suitable as an integral component of the intelligent energy grid.

In the scope of a comprehensive field test, devolo has tested its model for communication in the smart grid based on the G3-PLC technology in co-operation with Vattenfall for real-world fitness. It works in the frequency band from 150 to 500 kHz. Vattenfall Europe Metering GmbH was a consultation partner for network technology and infrastructure. The test sample withstood the test splendidly under stress; previously achieved data rates and ranges were significantly exceeded. Conclusion: The narrowband PLC communication technology in the frequency band of 150 to 500 kHz is ready for the intelligent energy network market.

G3-PLC already convinces in pre-qualification test

In the smart grid, the G3-PLC solution is in direct competition with other IP-based communications technologies such as GPRS or DSL. "In our first prequalification tests, the G3-PLC technology demonstrated some decisive advantages compared to other technologies. G3-PLC features outstandingly good data rates, even in systems in very deep-lying lower levels," explains Ronny Stark, project manager at Vattenfall Europe Metering.

Comprehensive field test simulates realistic scenario

The G3-PLC technology was tested in a pretest at a Hamburg Vattenfall campus, where many converters and electric machines are installed. Very harsh conditions for transmission prevail there. Yet hardware and software functioned without problems. As the showcase of the actual, forward-looking field test, a typical urban residential area with single and multifamily housing as well as small shops was defined in Hamburg. The selection of the test field was made under the new legal basic conditions, which prescribe the use of measurement systems for subscribers and connection users with an annual usage of more than 6,000 kWh per year. The Germany-wide average for this annual usage is between 10 and 15 percent. Therefore, in the field test, 22 connection objects were equipped with the most modern communications technology. This corresponds roughly to 10 percent of the metering points in the field test and roughly 20 to 30 subscribers and connection users per network location. For exchanging data between the individual nodes, G3-PLC communication was used. The power lines in the low-voltage range can in this way also be used for IP-based data communication. This is essential in the smart grid, because in the scope of modern power grids, a massive amount of data on power supply and usage of energy is collected dynamically. The comprehensive test showed what PLC can do under a heavy load and that it is ready for the applications of the future.

Proven functionality

In the field test, the time-related and financial budgeting of the equipment of the test field as a segment of a smart grid cluster were tested. Only a few staff set up all the measuring points in a short amount of time. This result made both project partners happy and demonstrated the cost-effectiveness of PLC-based access communication. The system test that followed demonstrated clearly with various load simulations that the G3-PLC technology can fulfil the requirements of all current and future smart grid applications. It could even achieve a significantly higher data rate and an improved range in comparison to that of PLC competitor technologies up to this point.

Market-ready, for the future of the energy grids

The G3-PLC technology demonstrates solid properties in the test field, which speak in favour of use in the smart grid of the future. "We are pleased with the results of the field test, which prove the performance abilities of the narrowband PLC technology (150-500 kHz) in the access area and demonstrate its market-readiness," remarks Heiko Harbers, CEO of devolo AG. "In Vattenfall Europe Metering, we have a strong partner with whom we will implement notable projects."