NFC for Energy Management

By Amit Sethi, Technical Marketing Manager MDG Group, STMicroelectronics

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NFC for Energy Management

Natural Gas, Water and the Electricity are the prominent resource of energy which is used for domestic, commercial and industrial purpose in the whole world. As the resources are limited, a precaution should be taken to minimize misuses and wastage. A contactless NFC standard based prepaid metering could be the solution to overcome these situations.

This prepayment system can control efficiently the supply of energy in meters installed in the client’s site. The basic and common principle of prepayment in energy meters is to buy energy credit in advance and to inform the prepaid meter in some manner. This allows the consumer to decide on how much energy they want and how much to consume. These types of meters give the consumer a greater control over their electricity bills. After the prepaid energy is consumed, the meter gets disconnected automatically, until the energy balance is re-loaded through the NFC functioning.

The main parts of this NFC prepaid system are the payment infrastructure like the vending stations, a meter to measure the accumulated energy and the NFC element, which is used for loading the energy balance. Vending stations, having the NFC compatible vending units or the smart phones, connected to the utility server, can refresh the energy credits into the NFC card of corresponding amount paid by the consumer. Then, the user must approach the card to the energy meter. These energy meters have the NFC module to read and write the data from the NFC card. At that moment, the meter’s NFC interface recognizes a new balance request and after doing a mutual authentication it starts transferring the new energy credit from the smart card to the meter. The received credit is deducted depending on energy usage and when this credit reaches zero, the meter disconnects the load from the mains. If the user wants to use further energy from the mains, they must carry out a further prepayment.

NFC for Energy ManagementThe NFC interface, inside the meter, has the NFC reader/writer, which operates at 13.56Mhz frequency and supports the ISO15693 & ISO14443 protocols.

Depending on the proximity requirement, different NFC cards could be used. Systems with the long range/low data-rate requirements can use ISO15693 cards or IS014443 for the short range/high datarate requirements.

One of the pioneers of RFID and NFC technology, ST offers a comprehensive range, covering all NFC application needs, supported by a rich ecosystem. The devices include NFC / RFID tags, Dynamic NFC tags, NFC / RFID readers & NFC controllers including secure element for secure NFC applications and turnkey solutions. With the ST25 product family, ST offers a complete portfolio of NFC and RFID tag and reader ICs for a wide variety of NFC-enabled solutions. Currently found in contactless payment, access control and public transport ticketing systems, NFC technology is a convenient, always-on low power short-range wireless link that is driving the growth for convenient pairing, diagnostic readout,  data tracking, and parameter setting use cases in Consumer, Industrial, Automotive and Medical applications.

Please visit www.st.com/nfc for more information.

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