Gas consumption monitor

A European Eureka project called Intellgas has resulted in the development of an automatic system to measure gas consumption.

Existing and upgraded supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems enable gas suppliers to ensure proper operation of their networks.

However, reliable data about when and how much gas is being used is also crucial because gas distributors need to be able to forecast gas consumption up to 48 hours ahead and negotiate wholesale gas purchases accordingly – large penalties are applied if forecasts are more than eight per cent out.

To help out, a European Eureka project called Intellgas has resulted in the development of an automatic system that could be deployed at a consumer’s premises, the use of the public GPRS mobile-phone network for particularly inexpensive transmission of data from remote sites and advanced algorithms for data analysis.

Measuring gas consumption directly is complicated because volume depends on temperature and pressure, requiring correction at the user premises to ensure that consumers pay the correct amount.

The system combines volume correction and data logging in a single explosion-proof unit that provides its output directly to the distribution centre over the GPRS mobile-phone network. This is the first time that all these functions have been combined in a single unit.

The resulting data is then interpreted in the distribution centre using advanced algorithms to provide users with daily, weekly and annual consumption. Distributors can use the data on individual consumption not only for billing purposes but also to help inform and educate consumers about reducing energy needs – an obligation that the European Union (EU) has now put on energy suppliers.

More importantly, the system allows optimisation for load planning and enables accurate estimation of overall gas consumption up to 48 hours ahead based on current and historical user data and weather forecasts.

The system can be fully customised to different conditions – tariff systems, business information systems and languages – in European and non-European energy markets.

The project was led by Slovenia-based Solvera Lynx, a company that supplies energy data management software, working in partnership with Feingeraetebau Tritschler of Germany. The gas-demand forecasting software came from South Korean software partner Wooam.com.

The hardware is now being commercialised in Germany, Austria and Slovenia. The software is available in Croatia and Slovenia and will soon be delivered in Austria.