Apr 15, 2020

Nokia plans 5G network to Polish grid

Technology
Energy Efficiency
William Girling
2 min
Finnish telecom innovator Nokia has reportedly partnered with Polish company PGE Systemy to deploy a unique 5G-powered grid
Finnish telecom innovator

Finnish telecom innovator Nokia has reportedly partnered with Polish company PGE Systemy to deploy a unique 5G-powered grid.

When PGE was selected by the Polish Energy Ministry to introduce a 450 MHz band to support the country’s energy distribution system operators, the company turned to Nokia, which has proven knowledge and experience in 5G networking.

Although only at the proof of concept stage of development, it is envisioned as a project that will thoroughly modernise Poland’s operational communications; 5G has been gaining traction in the European energy sector as the key for delivering a next-gen grid service.

With network speeds running at over 1,000% faster than the fastest 4G service, 5G is capable of super-charging the three core technologies at the heart of Industry 4.0 (cloud, AI and IoT).

Modernising the grid

As the fourth industrial revolution is ushered in, energy companies are starting to seriously consider how their operations could be optimised for the next generation of consumers. 

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Andrzej Piotrowski, VP of PGE Systemy, stated that, following Nokia’s positive research and testing, the time was right for Poland to implement sweeping changes to bring its grid up to date. 

“Poland has a strong concern to digitalise our energy grid because further integration of renewables with the grid, as well as conversion to distributed energy systems, requires ubiquitous, reliable and safe communications.

“Private wireless operating in the 450 MHz range is the communications technology of choice for the energy sector right across Europe, which ensures support from industry suppliers. 

“The Nokia proof of concept has demonstrated that it will meet our needs in terms of coverage, service quality, resilience and long-term availability,” he said.

Chris Johnson, VP of Nokia’s Enterprise business, agrees with Piotrowski’s assessment of the company’s network concept and clarified that Nokia would be giving high-priority to the project. 

“Nokia has a big commitment to Poland’s communications infrastructure, with over 6,000 employees in-country working in our R&D centres, developing our newest technologies, including 4.9G and 5G. 

“Thus, we are very pleased to be providing further support for the digitalization of the Polish electrical grid by PGE Systemy.”

For more information on energy digital topics - please take a look at the latest edition of Energy Digital Magazine.

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Jul 26, 2021

Ofwat allows retailers to raise prices from April

Ofwat
Utilities
water
prices
Dominic Ellis
3 min
Ofwat confirms levels of bad debt costs across the business retail market are exceeding 2% of non-household revenue

Retailers can recover a portion of excess bad debt by temporarily increasing prices from April 2022, according to an Ofwat statement.

The regulator confirmed its view that levels of bad debt costs across the business retail market are exceeding 2% of non-household revenue, thereby allowing "a temporary increase" in the maximum prices. Adjustments to price caps will apply for a minimum of two years to reduce the step changes in price that customers might experience.

Measures introduced since March 2020 to contain the spread of Covid-19 could lead to retailers facing higher levels of customer bad debt. Retailers’ abilities to respond to this are expected to be constrained by Ofwat strengthening protections for non-household customers during Covid-19 and the presence of price caps.  

In April last year, Ofwat committed to provide additional regulatory protection if bad debt costs across the market exceeded 2% of non-household revenue. 

Georgina Mills, Business Retail Market Director at Ofwat said: “These decisions aim to protect the interests of non-household customers in the short and longer term, including from the risk of systemic Retailer failure as the business retail market continues to feel the impacts of COVID-19. By implementing market-wide adjustments to price caps, we aim to minimise any additional costs for customers in the shorter term by promoting efficiency and supporting competition.”  

There are also three areas where Ofwat has not reached definitive conclusions and is seeking further evidence and views from stakeholders:   

  1. Pooling excess bad debt costs – Ofwat proposes that the recovery of excess bad debt costs is pooled across all non-household customers, via a uniform uplift to price caps. 
  2. Keeping open the option of not pursuing a true up – For example if outturn bad debt costs are not materially higher than the 2% threshold. 
  3. Undertaking the true up – If a 'true up' is required, Ofwat has set out how it expects this to work in practice. 

Further consultation on the proposed adjustments to REC price caps can be expected by December.

Anita Dougall, CEO and Founding Partner at Sagacity, said Ofwat’s decision comes hot on the heels of Ofgem’s price cap rise in April.

"While it’s great that regulators are helping the industry deal with bad debt in the wake of the pandemic, raising prices only treats the symptoms. Instead, water companies should head upstream, using customer data to identify and rectify the causes of bad debt, stop it at source and help prevent it from occurring in the first place," she said.

"While recouping costs is a must, water companies shouldn’t just rely on the regulator. Data can help companies segment customers, identify and assist customers that are struggling financially, avoiding penalising the entire customer in tackling the cause of the issue."

United Utilities picks up pipeline award

A race-against-time plumbing job to connect four huge water pipes into the large Haweswater Aqueduct in Cumbria saw United Utilities awarded Utility Project of the Year by Pipeline Industries Guild.

The Hallbank project, near Kendal, was completed within a tight eight-day deadline, in a storm and during the second COVID lockdown last November – and with three hours to spare. Principal construction manager John Dawson said the project helped boost the resilience of water supplies across the North West.

“I think what made us stand out was the scale, the use of future technology and the fact that we were really just one team, working collaboratively for a common goal," he said.

Camus Energy secures $16m funding

Camus Energy, which provides advanced grid management technology, has secured $16 million in a Series A round, led by Park West Asset Management and joined by Congruent VenturesWave Capital and other investors, including an investor-owned utility. Camus will leverage the operating capital to expand its grid management software platform to meet growing demand from utilities across North America.

As local utilities look to save money and increase their use of clean energy by tapping into low-cost and low-carbon local resources, Camus' grid management platform provides connectivity between the utility's operations team, its grid-connected equipment and customer devices.

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