Linky project

By smartgrider In Advanced Metering Infrastructure, Case study Posted 2014-07-19


Linky project

Electricity French context

The electricity supply market is wholly open to competition since 2007. This allows companies and individuals a free choice of electricity supplier.

In France, the “Commission de Regulation de l’Energie” (CRE) is one of the official bodies that ensures adherence to market regulations.

ERDF’s missions are performed within the framework of a public-service contract and financed by “TURPE” (Tarif d’Utilisation des Reseaux Publics d’Electricite) or Network tariff charged to all users of the grid.

DSOs are responsible for metering activities.

ERDF manages the electricity distribution network across 95% of mainland France, guaranteeing quality and safety. Local distribution companies manage the remaining 5% in their exclusive service zones. The network belongs to local authorities, i.e., French municipalities or groups of municipalities.

Below you will find some key figures:

  • Electricity consumed (2013): 495 TWh.
  • Power Peak Demand (2013): 92,600 MW.
  • Current net result (2013): 810 MEUR ?697,200 km of LV lines (230 V/400 V).
  • 617,700 km of MV lines (20,000 V).

Contact: Hannah BESSER- ERDF, Linky Project

Email address:


Background and objectives

The smart meters project was designed as a step toward modernizing the electricity system with would yield the following benefits to the customer and the electricity system: ERDF’s Linky project is about the modernisation of 35 million electricity meters in France by installing smart meters.

This project, led in conjunction with the French Energy Regulation Commission (CRE), aims at answering the changing needs of various players on the electricity market:

  • to modernise metering infrastructures to face technological and societal evolutions (development of renewables and electrical vehicles, new uses of energy, etc.);
  • to improve the management of the Low Voltage network by collecting technical data on the system and on its availability;
  • to improve the functioning of the electricity market (diversification of tariff offers);
  • to help control energy demand and reduce CO2 Emissions.

Linky is based upon functionalities from the electronic meter, and equipped with 7 new major functions: a clock, a breaker, a software, a PLC modem, an encryption system, 8 managing contact-relays, and a slot for a radio module.

Based on the AMM technology, Linky is able to transmit consumption data, and remotely manage contractual activities (receive updates of the contractual parameters, remotely manage supply connectivity). It also allows ERDF to collect data on voltage quality and interruptions. Consumers will have access to their consumption data through a website.

Linky facilitates energy transition, enabling integration of Renewables on the grid, Electrical Vehicles (EV) and load management.

More than a meter, Linky is a system, a communicating platform which takes advantage of the low voltage network. This system includes five key elements:

  • The smart meter: it’s a “slave” system, receiving and executing orders and in return transmitting reports and validating readings;
  • Linky then communicates them to a concentrator (a data aggregator located in ERDF’s secondary substations). The concentrator polls the meters, processes and stores the received data and transmits it to the central Information System.
  • Linky communicates with the concentrator via the local communication network. It exploits the Power Line Carrier technology (PLC), using the low-voltage electric network to exchange data and orders between meters and concentrators.
  • The concentrator in turn communicates with ERDF’s central Information System, which receives requests from ERDF’s internal Information Systems and processes them automatically.
  • The extended communication network allows concentrators to communicate with the central Information System. This network uses telecommunication network (e.g.: GPRS).

The three main characteristics of Linky system are:

  • Bi-directional communication (to and from the meter);
  • Scalability: each component can be separately upgraded;
  • Interoperable and exchangeable equipments, and standardized protocols of communication

Figure 4. Linky System architecture


ERDF designed the overall system, setting out specifications for the meters and data concentrators and leaving the manufacturing of the equipments to subcontractors, selected by European calls for tender.

Linky’s unique design is the result of the joint work of agency BETC Design, project staff and the manufacturers. The ergonomics of the next generation meter is more intuitive with only 2 buttons visible and more technical controls sealed under the covering box.

In 2009, Linky won an “Observeur du Design” award[1] (created in 1999 by the Agency for the promotion of industrial action) on the topic “the beautiful, the useful and design” for its capacity to be forward-looking by proposing an aesthetic concept tailored to uses and lifestyles.


The modernisation of electricity meters is a legal obligation imposed by the European Commission. In a directive of 2006, Brussels required 80% of meters to be “smart” by 2020, in other words tey must allow users to control their consumption. Linky Project aims at complying with this requirement.

Linky is the first step towards smart grids and will help to optimise the network management:

  • Better fault identification and localisation on low and medium voltage networks ensuring faster interventions;
  • Detailed monitoring of the power quality to better manage customer complaints and to provide a faster answer;
  • Increased capacity to remotely act on the networks, in particular to manage peak shaving programs;
  • New tools to forecast constraints on the network (balance between production and consumption) on local areas and diverse time scales (short term, long term simulation, …);
  • Reinforced observation and control capabilities to maintain the proper voltage level and to optimise the location of Renewables production sites / EV charging stations.

Linky also offers numerous benefits for the consumers:

  • With Linky, billing (under supplier’s responsibility) can be based on actual consumption and no longer on estimated consumption: users’ bills reflect what consumers actually consume.
  • Most operations can be remotely done, in less than 24 hours (the contractual period is 5 days today).
  • Outages can be localised faster, enabling faster interventions of field teams.
  • Linky offers consumers a secured access to consumption data, including a history and analysis of power usage, accessible on the Internet or mobile phones. These data will help the consumers to better understand their energy consumption and to engage in more responsible consumption by adjusting the consumption to the real needs.
  • With its 8 managing contact relays, Linky enables the management of household appliances (hot water tank, electric heating, etc.).
  • At last, it offers a simple and unique device to facilitate demand response: by sending a signal, to make consumer reduce or suppress energy consumption during peak periods.


Current status and results

From March 2009 to March 2011, ERDF launched a pilot to experiment the Linky system in two areas, in the city of Lyon (1750 inhabitants/km²) and in the rural districts around Tours in the Loire Valley (33 inhabitant/ km²). This experiment lasted 24 months.

The objectives of this pilot were to test Linky Information System and the roll out process, and to confirm financial hypotheses (mainly to measure the duration of the installation of meters).

Figure 5: Linky Pilot planning


Installation of concentrators was realised by ERDF teams, and the installation of the meters was realised by service providers.

The financial hypotheses were validated: an average time slot of 30 minutes to replace a meter, 8 per day per electrical fitter. An average of 1500 meters was changed per day.

The system reached the expected performance objectives: 98% of remote operations are achieved in less than 24 hours.

The Linky experiment gave good results and was considered as a success by the French Regulator “CRE”, in its experiment’s report published in 2011. Today, 300 000 Linky smart meters are operational in France.

Lessons learned and best practices

Customer engagement during the roll out

The relationship with consumers was a major stake of the Linky experimentation.

A campaign of communication was launched to inform clients and local authorities in the roll out areas.

Public meetings were organised. Information letters were sent to the clients before the technical interventions.

A dedicated hot line could be used if clients had some questions before or after the installation of the smart meters.

An instruction manual of the meter was given after installation, also accessible on ERDF’s website.

These actions secured the relationship with consumers during the roll out: at last, ERDF received less than 1% of claims related to Linky experiment.


Access to data for final consumers

ERDF launched in 2012 an experiment in Lyon to study the interest of consumers for web energy information and to evaluate the impact of an access to energy consumption.“Watt & Moi” is a Web Site for customer information, experimented with “Grand Lyon Habitat”, a social landlord. 1000 clients equipped with a Linky meter have been given an access to the Web Site.

It enables a secure and educational access to individual consumption information (by season, month, days, hours, etc.), comparison with similar households, basic advices in energy savings and SMS alerts in case of overconsumption.

Note: the data on the individual consumptions are given in kWh and not in Euros, because of the separation between suppliers and DSOs in France.


System design

The Power Line Communication (PLC) carries data on a conductor that is also used simultaneously for electric power transmission or distribution.

During the pilot, the PLC communication protocol of the Linky system was the G1 PLC.

ERDF now plans to deploy a new generation of meters and concentrators using a new protocol, the G3 PLC.

The G3 PLC is a high-speed, highly-reliable, long-range communication protocol. It can function in harsh, noisy environment.

G3-PLC Alliance, sponsored by ERDF, is promoting G3-PLC technology in smart grid applications. The main objectives of the Alliance are:

  • to support G3-PLC in internationally recognised standards bodies to achieve the rapid adoption of G3-PLC specification worldwide;
  • to develop a framework for equipment testing to facilitate interoperability among G3-PLC adopters ;
  • to educate the market and promote the value, benefits and applications of G3-PLC.


Market impact

Some Electricity suppliers are developing new offers or devices using smart meters functionalities. These offers propose new tariff offers, data access and the management of household electrical appliances.

Some industrials (e.g. Schneider Electric, Delta Dore, etc.) develop Smart home management systems that could use the smart meter’s functionalities (diversification of tariff profiles, the 8 virtual contact relays).

Linky is a major project for the French industry: 10,000 job opportunities will be offered for the manufacturing and the installation of the smart meters. 5,000 of these jobs will be devoted to the installation of meters in the French territory.


Cyber security

The Linky Project follows the recommendations of CNIL (the French National Commission for Information Systems and Freedom) and ANSSI (National Agency for Information Systems Security)

ERDF is submitted to a legal obligation to protect commercial data and consumer’s personal data. These data are the consumer’s property and can’t be communicated to a third party.

A decree of January 2012 in France indicates that advanced metering systems must be in conformity with a frame of reference about security, certified by the ANSSI.

The data transmitted to Linky’s information system are encrypted.


Next Steps

On July 9th, 2013, the French Prime Minister announced the decision to roll out 3 million Linky smart meters in France by end 2016 and confirmed the target to replace all the present meters, 35 million units, by the year 2021.

On 2013, July 30th, a notice for participation was released in the Official Journal of the European Union. It was followed on 2013, October 11th by a call for tender to supply the equipment (for the first step of 3 million meters).

The Linky Project represents a 5 billion € investment: the investment is based on a 20 years duration and will be compensated by savings made on field interventions and on non- invoiced consumptions (frauds…).

ERDF is now planning a mass roll out. During the first semester of 2014, the mass roll out plans will be shared with French national and local authorities.

In the middle of the year 2014, a call for tender will be released in the Official Journal of the European Union for the service providing for the installation of the meters.



Key Regulations, Legislation & Guidelines

Law n° 2005-781-2005 July 13th- Program on energy policy orientation (POPE)

Directive 2006/32/EC on energy end use efficiency and energy services

Law n° 2009-967-Aug 3th- Grenelle de l’Environnement (energy efficiency and conservation)

French smart metering decree n° 2010-1022- Aug 31th

Pilot project assessment by the French regulator in 2011 (CRE)…/Dossier_evaluation_Linky.pdf

First announcement of Linky roll-out by ≪ Comite Besson ≫, Minister of Energy in 2011 Following the decree, smart meter order ? 2012 Jan 4th

European directive on energy efficiency ? November 14th 2012

9th July : decision announced by Prime Minister for the roll out of smart meters


Linky on the ERDF’s website

G3-PLC Alliance website



French Smart Grid Policy

To face increasing environmental concerns, the European Union adopted ambitious objectives. In conjunction with European policy, France adopted measures, by laws issued from the “Grenelle de l’environnement”, to efficiently handle energy demand. France also took the engagement to divide by 4 its greenhouse gas emission.

The energy transition (development of Renewables and Electrical Vehicles, increasing concerns about energy efficiency) has a strong impact on energy uses and the management of the electrical system. The modernisation of the electrical system and the development of smart grids in France are thus required.

ERDF, the historical DSO, is a reference in the field of smart grid technologies. MV Grid is already ≪ smart ≫ in France (with Regional Control Centers, remote-control appliances). The stake is to develop smart grid technologies on LV Grid.

The DSOs, and particularly ERDF, have already included in their investment programs the implementation of smart grids technologies. ERDF implements numerous smart grid projects and pilots until 2016, and study possible industrialisation plans and roll out process from 2018.

UFE (Union Francaise de l’energie) estimates to 110 billion Euros the necessary investments on the distribution networks to face the impact of energy transition until 2030.

The development of smart grids on LV networks will help to avoid a part of these investments by contributing to a better localisation, and by increasing the capacity to dynamically manage uses and Renewables.

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