The Energy@Home initiative will develop a system in which "smart appliances" will be able to independently manage themselves, thereby adjusting the power being used across the entire home and avoiding consumption peaks and overloads. The project is a further step towards the development of the so-called “smart grid,” which, in the future, will allow information from appliances to “self-program” depending on power supply and price. As a result, appliances will start functioning at non-peak (and therefore at less expensive) times of day, avoiding meter shutdowns due to overloads and automatically balance consumption without jeopardizing proper execution of equipment.
By integrating ST’s innovative ZigBee USB key, the system will also provide users with information on their household consumption directly on their computer, cell phone, or on the display of the appliance itself. With easy access to information on consumption and the possibility to download customized programs to help save energy, consumers will be able to use their appliances in a “smart” manner, with the objective of enhancing the entire energy system’s efficiency. The system will also include a Coordinated Management Mode, in which the “Home Gateway” plans operations, taking into account price information, selected household-appliance programs and the customer’s needs and constraints via a dialogue with smart dishwashers, washing machine, refrigerators, and other household appliances.
“Minimizing global consumption of electrical energy is one of the main challenges facing the world today. This new collaboration with Enel underpins ST’s commitment to further develop technologies and solutions that address energy savings,” said Matteo Lo Presti, Group Vice President, Industrial and Multisegment Sector, STMicroelectronics. “The Energy@Home initiative has already demonstrated that the combination of smarter meters, smarter appliances and access to real-time information on energy usage and costs encourages users to change their energy consumption patterns, resulting in lower costs to the consumer and a more efficient electricity supply. We are certain that ST’s contribution to the Consortium, will open doors to extend easy access to household energy consumption information to an even broader consumer population.”
An essential part of the new key collaboration between ST and Enel is the combination of ST’s innovative USB key, based on an STM32W 32-bit ARM Cortex-M3 core with up to 256-Kbyte Flash, with Enel’s “Smart Info” device to communicate with household smart meters, enabling customers to access meter information more easily via a number of simple visual supports (personal computers, entertainment equipment, electrical appliances, mobile devices, and dedicated displays). This integration gives consumer’s detailed knowledge of their consumption and the ability to optimize it by organizing the use of appliances and lighting more efficiently. The integration of the two devices will transmit the information on consumption collected from the meter inside the residential network through a standard and open communication protocol.
The Energy@Home initiative strengthens ST and Enel’s already solid collaboration history that has seen the two companies join forces on smart metering solutions, where Enel has selected ST’s StarGRID™ modem family to replace 13 million electromechanical meters with electronic power meters destined for distribution by Endesa (the largest electricity provider in Spain), as well to serve 35 million customers in Italy. ST also supports Enel with its state-of-the-art key collaboration in metering in the Meters&More consortium in Brussels, which provides a proven open protocol for more than 50 million smart meters worldwide.