As I have mentioned here previously, Smart Meters are going to bring a flood of data to utility companies which will need to be properly managed and which can be a source of intelligence for the utility, if they mine it well.
At the recent SAP Sapphire Now conference, UK Energy retailer Centrica showcased their Smart Meter Analytics application running on SAP’s HANA. HANA is SAP’s in-memory computing solution (In-memory computing moves data off traditional storage on servers and into RAM, providing a performance boost over having to read the data off disks).
Centrica are the largest single instance utility on an SAP system with 18 million residential accounts for and one million business accounts. Right now they are billing residential accounts every three months and they are managing 75 million meter reads per annum.
With the move to smart meters, Centrica will take electricity reads every 30 minutes and gas reads once per day. This means a shift from 75 million meter reads per annum to 120 billion meter reads a year. 120 billion – that’s billion with a b. That’s a phenomenal amount of data to have to deal with. Doing any kind of traditional analytics on a data set that large would very quickly get totally bogged down. One of the interesting things about HANA however is that the performance scales linearly with the hardware. If it’s starting to slow a bit with 120 billion meter reads, throw a couple of extra terabytes of ram and servers at it and hey presto you are back in business, or so the theory goes!
In the demo above, Centrica are using the analytics to examine their customer segmentation. They can look at the energy profile of similar businesses in a specific area and where there are anomalies, they can work with those businesses to help them cut their energy consumption until it is more in line with their peers. Increasing pressures to be energy-efficient and to reduce carbon footprints are being looked on by Centrica as an opportunity to open an energy services business, going to customers to help them to become more energy-efficient. The Smart Meter Analytics application is going to be crucial for this new practice within Centrica…