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Smart metering in emerging markets

Smart meters help to reduce household energy usage. (Image source: Pylon)

Ahmed Ashour, CEO of Pylon, explains how smart solutions can help capture losses and reduce the environmental impact of the energy sector

African Review (AR): What is ‘Smart Metering as a Service’ and how does it help utilities to increase their top-line? 

Ahmed Ashour (AA): ‘Smart Metering as a Service’ makes it easy for cash-conscious utility companies to deploy smart meters at scale and reduce losses / break the losses cycle. Pylon does not charge utility companies any upfront costs, and uses a subscription model instead – ‘SMaaS’. With no upfront investment, Pylon can help utilities increase their top-line by up to 50% – increasing revenue without substantial capital expenditure.

With smart meters representing 14% of all global meters for electricity, water and gas, millions of tons of CO2 are already prevented from being released into the atmosphere. Further benefits, such as savings of 25% CO2 by 2035 (compared to 2015), will result from smart meters’ ability to reduce household energy usage, easing demand on the grid. 

Pylon’s AI innovations and SMaaS solutions are already working for Madinaty – one of Egypt’s biggest private compounds; Mostakbal City – Egypt’s first green smart city; Egypt’s Ministry of Defence; and Iloilo, a city in the Philippines.

AR: How is AI being utilised to enhance grid infrastructure and support utilities?

AA: Our pioneering AI technology analyses existing data from utility companies to forecast usage, identify systemic inefficiencies, and capture losses – which are up to US$400bn annually, in emerging markets.

Utilities benefit from Pylon’s technology by improving revenue collection, reducing waste and theft, and lessening environmental impact all while cutting expenditure; AI drives all these improvements.

The AI opportunity is huge and, with new use cases being discovered all the time, there is no obvious ceiling. Major wins are likely from automating services and eliminating losses from theft, meter tampering, leakages, etc., delivering costs savings that improve societal access to power and water.

AR: Have you found sub-Saharan African (SSA) energy utilities open to these new solutions?Ahmed Ashour Pylon CEO

AA: The ongoing adoption of microgrids and off-grid renewable energy sources in SSA clearly demonstrates the demand for innovative solutions to improve power generation and distribution.

The flexibility provided by Pylon’s SMaaS model encourages quicker adoption of innovative technologies and grid upgrades, avoiding the large-scale investments often required to change legacy infrastructure. In many cases, this flexibility allows SSA’s markets to improve power provision and reach.

AR: What message would say give to those hesitant in embracing such digital advancements? 

AA: Hesitancy is understandable ‘if’ there is a lack of obvious precedents showing what is possible and the benefits of investing in digital technologies.

However, Pylon’s track-record is encouraging for investors, engineers and technicians across emerging markets as we prove the impact of digital technologies such as smart meters and AI.

As the urgency to reduce carbon emissions drives major global investments and innovations, utilities should seek solutions helping them meet sustainability goals and protect their bottom lines.

While many people in developed markets are already familiar with smart solutions, the benefits of smart meters and smart grids in emerging markets need to be appreciated and shared more widely. This will improve global energy efficiency, and reduce carbon emissions.

At Pylon, our task is to explain to potential clients the advantages of a subscription-based approach for smart metering and smart grids, and highlight why access to capital is no reason to hold back on making smart, forward-looking decisions about innovative technology to improve their businesses.

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