Some cities world-wide as smart city role models are employing satellite systems and sensors to monitor critical infrastructure like water and power supply, traffic and even to prepare against any storms and heavy rains, which could be very useful for disaster management. In this context an international smart city development to put things in perspective: The US Department of Transportation in Pittsburgh, to reduce traffic congestion, has invested on smart traffic lights, which figure out how long to leave the lights green or red in order to maximise traffic flow in all directions. The system has reportedly reduced travel time drastically and led to a major reduction in vehicle emissions. Also a recent study in UK said that computer-assisted smart grids lead to better monitoring and distribution of electricity and more efficient billing but cautioned, as a worst-case scenario, that countries should put in place security measures to protect the infrastructure from terrorists and hackers.
Smart Grids with intelligent monitoring and increased interconnection employed in power grids, face a greater risk from cyber attacks which can disrupt a city’s power supply. Digital networks could also be prone to attacks from hackers, leading to misuse of consumer data. So the existing regulatory framework should put in place preventive measures.
Another element of smart grid development is that the 100 smart cities will lead to employment opportunities, since people will be required to monitor the vast amount of data. Since the presence of smart grids will only increase in the years to come, we will need to have a capable workforce in place by then.
As per a news report, a tender for a smart grid project in Gurgaon missed its third deadline. The reasons cited for this ranged from lack of clarity over project funding, the government’s uncertainty regarding where to raise the money from and what kind of instruments to use. So policymakers should implement a robust incentive model framework to attract more private investments. As per a recent Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) report, India requires around $26 billion each year to meet its renewable capacity targets by 2022, including $5 billion annually to build a smart grid to handle higher production from renewable sources.
So while there may be some apprehension about challenges in implementation of smart grids, they ought to be replaced with hopes of a more robust grid that will offer multiple benefits in future.