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Flemish collaborative effort reports communication module breakthrough advancing smart metering

Flemish collaborative effort reports communication module breakthrough advancing smart metering

Leuven (Belgium)—Nov. 3, 2014 — At this week’s European Utility Week, held in Amsterdam from Nov. 4 through Nov. 6, imec, iMinds, and their partners in the iMinds ICON-project CoPlaSM present the results of the two-year project (initiated in January 2013) to realize and validate proof of concept of a multi-standard communication module for smart meters.

The sharp increase in decentralized renewable electricity production, such as the case with solar panels, creates the need for a smart two-way electricity grid. To guarantee stability in the smart grid, continuous real-time monitoring through smart meters is required, both in the grid infrastructure and at the consumer side. The European Union is betting high on smart meters, aiming for 80 percent of the electricity meters to be smart by 2018. Moreover, the global market of smart meters is estimated to grow from $7 billion in 2012 to $35 billion in 2022.

Within the CoPlaSM project, the fundaments for a highly reliable software-upgradeable multi-standard communication module have been built. When coupled with a utility meter, this communication module turns the meter into a smart meter. The multi-connectivity of the module, compatible with wireless machine-to-machine standards, coax cable, and power line communication (PLC), will enable a one-size-fits-all solution, with shorter time-to-market, lower unit price, cheaper logistics and easier and uniform installation.

The technical requirements of the communication module were defined by distribution system operators Eandis and Infrax, based on a stakeholder requirement analysis and research performed with end-users (performed by iMinds research groups SMIT at VUB and MICT at UGent). The ASIC design company AnSem developed a software-defined PLC-solution. The module consists of AnSem’s multi-standard PLC analog front-end chip combined with NXP’s licensable ultra-low power CoolFlux BSP baseband processor core. It features competitive cost, performance and power consumption with current state-of-the-art, single-standard dedicated solutions. The PLC-IP and chip is demonstrated with the G3- and Eandis proprietary protocols on a Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) platform and is available for developers of smart home and smart grid applications through AnSem.

Imec, the iMinds research group IBCN at iMinds-UGent and iMinds-VUB are currently generalizing the architecture and software to create a module for multi-standard wireless and wireline communication, with expertise from the different industrial partners. AnSem, Eandis, Elster Energy ICT, Infrax and Laborelec provide reference operating conditions to validate the performance of the system and evaluate the suitability of different wireless and coax communication standards for smart grid applications. Moreover, based on an overall system complexity analysis, energy consumption and production cost of the multi-standard communication module for smart meters are estimated. For the dissemination of the results, the CoPlaSM partners are supported by Smart Grids Flanders to present the project to Flemish stakeholders.

About imec
Imec performs world-leading research in nanoelectronics. Imec leverages its scientific knowledge with the innovative power of its global partnerships in ICT, healthcare and energy. Imec delivers industry-relevant technology solutions. In a unique high-tech environment, its international top talent is committed to providing the building blocks for a better life in a sustainable society. Imec is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium, and has offices in Belgium, the Netherlands, Taiwan, US, China, India and Japan. Its staff of over 2,080 people includes more than 670 industrial residents and guest researchers. In 2013, imec's revenue (P&L) totaled 332 million euro. Further information on imec can be found at www.imec.be. Stay up to date about what’s happening at imec with the monthly imec magazine, available for tablets and smartphones (as an app for iOS and Android), or via the website www.imec.be/imecmagazine 
Imec is a registered trademark for the activities of IMEC International (a legal entity set up under Belgian law as a "stichting van openbaar nut”), imec Belgium (IMEC vzw supported by the Flemish Government), imec the Netherlands (Stichting IMEC Nederland, part of Holst Centre which is supported by the Dutch Government), imec Taiwan (IMEC Taiwan Co.) and imec China (IMEC Microelectronics (Shanghai) Co. Ltd.) and imec India (Imec India Private Limited).

About iMinds
iMinds – the digital research center of Flanders, Belgium – combines the strength of its 850+ researchers at five Flemish universities to conduct strategic and applied research in areas such as ICT, Media and Health. Together with its research partners (companies, governments and non-profit organizations), iMinds translates digital know-how into concrete products and services. In addition, iMinds supports researchers, young entrepreneurs and start-ups in the successful market introduction of their ideas. More info at www.iminds.be (Twitter: @iMinds).

About AnSem
AnSem is Europe's leading fabless analog ASIC design service company, designing and delivering state-of-the-art analog, RF and mixed-signal integrated circuits to customers worldwide. Founded in 1998 and based in Leuven, Belgium, AnSem specializes in the development of advanced integrated circuits for wired and wireless data transmission, sensor data acquisition, ultra low-power and high voltage applications. AnSem is ISO 9001 certified and is a proven and solid development partner for ambitious and visionary customers, reaching for leadership in global markets.

About NXP Semiconductors (and CoolFlux DSP)
NXP Semiconductors N.V. (NASDAQ: NXPI) creates solutions that enable secure connections for a smarter world. Building on its expertise in High Performance Mixed Signal electronics, NXP is driving innovation in the automotive, identification and mobile industries, and in application areas including wireless infrastructure, lighting, healthcare, industrial, consumer tech and computing. NXP has operations in more than 25 countries, and posted revenue of $4.82 billion in 2013. Find out more at www.nxp.com.

NXP’s embedded CoolFlux™ DSP core was developed for high performance power-sensitive portable audio applications. The CoolFlux DSP, initially created and still successful for Hearing Aid applications is also used in chips for smartphones, tablets, portable media players and headsets. Other ultra-low power CoolFlux core family members like CoolFlux BSP support ULP software defined radio and wireline baseband processing and smart sensor processing. NXP licenses CoolFlux DSP cores through its corporate IP & Licensing division. CoolFlux comes with a highly effective Software Programming Suite. NXP also offers a comprehensive application software library further enhanced with premium firmware by independent software vendors (ISVs) such as NXP Software. Find out more at www.coolflux.com.

About Laborelec
Laborelec is a leading research and competence centre in electrical power technology. It was established in 1962 in order to support Belgian electricity companies with research, development, and specialized services. Today, it is part of GDF SUEZ, a world leader in energy. Our competences cover the entire electricity value chain: generation, transmission, distribution, storage and end-use. We offer specialized research and services in each of these domains, to companies in all parts of the world. Our headquarters are located near Brussels, and we also operate branch offices in the Netherlands, in Germany and in the Middle-East and a subsidiary in Chile.

About Smart Grid Flanders 
Smart Grids Flanders (SGF) is the membership organization that aims to facilitate the roll-out of intelligent electricity networks or ‘smart grids’, both in Flanders and internationally. Smart Grids Flanders brings together relevant players from industry, academia and government and provides them with a knowledge sharing platform, networking opportunities and project support. Through its four content-driven theme groups, Smart Grids Flanders organizes in-depth seminars for specialists. The annual Smart Grid School is a unique three-day training program for newcomers to the smart energy world. Smart Grids Flanders initiates projects and brings partners together. www.smartgridsflanders.be

Contact: 
imec: Hanne Degans, Press officer and communications specialist, T: +32 16 28 17 69, Mobile: +32 486 06 51 75,hanne.degans@imec.be
AnSem NV: Esperantolaan 9, 3001 Heverlee, Phone: +32 16 38 65 00, E-mail: business@ansem.com 
www.ansem.com

 

CoPlaSM: Industrial partners: AnSem, Eandis, Elster Energy ICT, Infrax, Laborelec, NXP Semiconductors; Research partners: imec iMinds–IBCN–UGent, iMinds–MICT–UGent, iMinds–SMIT–VUB; User committee: Smart Grid Flanders; Funding: iMinds ICON, IWT project 120441

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