Smart grids, smart cities

Smart grids face many chal­lenges but if prop­erly im­ple­mented, they can of­fer mul­ti­ple ben­e­fits and be a vi­tal part of a sus­tain­able so­lu­tion to In­dia’s rapidly in­creas­ing en­ergy needs, says R Srini­vasan.

Power Watch India - - COVER STORY -

Smart grids are part of the so­lu­tion in meet­ing the in­creas­ing en­ergy de­mand of the coun­try and sup­ply­ing 24x7 power to all its cit­i­zens. Es­tab­lish­ment of smart grids is cru­cial since it is es­ti­mated that the de­mand for power will nearly quadru­ple by 2032 and the cur­rent T&D losses too are very high. Smart grids are also in keep­ing with the am­bi­tious cli­mate change com­mit­ments and for largescale de­ploy­ment of in­ter­mit­tent re­new­able en­ergy gen­er­a­tion. In ad­di­tion, they are cru­cial to some key projects such as 100 Smart Cities, 175 GW of re­new­able en­ergy (RE) by 2022, elec­tric ve­hi­cles, etc.

As per some re­ports, the In­dian smart grid mar­ket is es­ti­mated to touch Rs 50,000 crore in the next five years. Reji Ku­mar Pil­lai, Pres­i­dent, In­dia Smart Grid Fo­rum (ISGF) had opined that these 100 smart cities and 500 smart towns will in­volve smart me­ter­ing, smart street-lights, rooftop so­lar, state of the art billing, en­ergy stor­age, elec­tric ve­hi­cle charg­ing sta­tions, etc.

Com­ment­ing on the cur­rent sce­nario of the 100 Smart Cities and 500 smart towns ini­tia­tive and if it has shaped up as ex­pected in the last few years, Ru­dranil Roy Sharma, GM & Se­nior Con­sul­tant – En­ergy Ver­ti­cal, Feed­back Busi­ness Con­sult­ing Ser­vices

Pvt Ltd, said, “Glob­ally, there is no spe­cific def­i­ni­tion of a smart city. Dif­fer­ent coun­tries or au­thor­i­ties de­fine it in a dif­fer­ent way and from the In­dian per­spec­tive the def­i­ni­tion can vary from state to state and city to city. As men­tioned in the pol­icy doc­u­ment, the smart city mis­sion ob­jec­tive is to pro­mote cities that pro­vide core in­fra­struc­ture and give a de­cent qual­ity of life to its cit­i­zens, a clean and sus­tain­able en­vi­ron­ment and ap­pli­ca­tion of ‘Smart’ So­lu­tions. The fo­cus is on sus­tain­able and in­clu­sive de­vel­op­ment and the idea is to look at com­pact ar­eas and cre­ate a repli­ca­ble model which will act like a light house to other as­pir­ing cities. The mis­sion was launched by the cur­rent Prime Min­is­ter of In­dia in June 2015. Its ob­jec­tive is to retro­fit, re-de­vel­op­ment and green de­vel­op­ment of 100 cities across In­dia so that it drives eco­nomic growth and im­proves the qual­ity of peo­ple’s lives by en­abling lo­cal area de­vel­op­ment and har­ness­ing tech­nol­ogy, es­pe­cially tech­nol­ogy that leads to smart out­comes. The mis­sion has made sig­nif­i­cant progress in the last one year. In the be­gin­ning, these 100 cities were dis­trib­uted among all the states and UTs with each state/UT hav­ing at least one smart city. This dis­tri­bu­tion was done based on ur­ban pop­u­la­tion of the State/UT and the num­ber of statu­tory towns in the State/UT. Post this, a ‘City Chal­lenge’ pro­gramme was con­ducted among the as­pir­ing cities in or­der to short­list cities to be taken up for the Smart City mis­sion. The chal­lenge was con­ducted in two stages. The first stage was in­tra-state com­pe­ti­tion, where cities within the same state com­pete with each other for se­lec­tion. In the next stage, short­listed states from each state com­pete with each other for Pan-In­dia level se­lec­tion. So far, two rounds of se­lec­tion have been con­ducted and a to­tal of 47 cities have been se­lected for the mis­sion - 20 in round 1 and 27 in round 2. The in­vest­ment model for the mis­sion has al­ready been fi­nalised. For each city, a SPV will be formed with equal eq­uity par­tic­i­pa­tion from the Cen­tre and state. Pri­vate com­pa­nies may take an eq­uity stake in the project how­ever the state and cen­tral govt jointly should be the ma­jor share­holder. The Cen­tral govt will dis­burse Rs 500 crore for each city - Rs 200 crore in the first year and Rs 100 crore for the next 3 years. The re­spec­tive state will make an equal con­tri­bu­tion and projects will be ex­e­cuted through joint ven­tures, sub­sidiaries, public-pri­vate part­ner­ship (PPP), turnkey con­tracts etc. To sum up, the mis­sion has seen sig­nif­i­cant move­ment in the last one year and ini­tial plan­ning and roll-out ac­tiv­i­ties are very much on track. It will be in­ter­est­ing to see the pace at which im­ple­men­ta­tion takes place over the next few years. Most ini­tial projects are fo­cussing on area based de­vel­op­ment. It will be in­ter­est­ing to see how the same can be im­ple­mented for the en­tire city so that cit­i­zens at large ben­e­fit from the mis­sion.”

About the cur­rent sce­nario of the 100 Smart Cities and 500 smart towns ini­tia­tive, an In­dia Power spokesper­son said, “The Rs 70.6 billion (ap­prox­i­mately US$1.2 billion) worth smart city pro­gramme is a vi­sion­ary ini­tia­tive. Cities and towns equipped with tech­no­log­i­cally ad­vanced and en­vi­ron­men­tally sus­tain­able con­di­tions ap­par­ently seem to be a tremen­dous ac­com­plish­ment, if achieved, in In­dia. How­ever, the cur­rent pace of work in the in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment of cities or their plan­ning does not re­flect any re­mark­able move in the di­rec­tion of smart cities or towns. The ma­jor­ity of the bud­get al­lo­ca­tion to­wards the same re­mains un­der­utilised due to lack of city gov­er­nance and bud­getary re­spon­si­bil­i­ties taken by the lo­cal gov­ern­ments.”

Queried about the price-sen­si­tive In­dian mar­ket and if the coun­try is ready for full-

fledged im­ple­men­ta­tion across In­dia, Ru­dranil Roy Sharma said, “Price sen­si­tiv­ity is def­i­nitely a point for con­sid­er­a­tion when we talk about mass im­ple­men­ta­tion of smart me­ters as the govt is yet to fig­ure out the in­vest­ment model. How­ever, price sen­si­tiv­ity is not rel­e­vant for smart cities as the in­vest­ment model has al­ready been worked out and fund­ing will come from govts, pri­vate com­pa­nies/so­lu­tion providers, global aid agen­cies etc.”

About the price-sen­si­tive In­dian mar­ket and if the coun­try is ready for full-fledged im­ple­men­ta­tion across In­dia, an In­dia Power spokesper­son said, “Wors­en­ing cli­mate changes along with de­plet­ing re­sources have led to mass ur­ban­i­sa­tion. One of the main aims of the smart city or town con­cept is to bring about a rev­o­lu­tion in the way the util­i­ties, trans­port, health­care, ed­u­ca­tion sys­tems work in In­dia. There­fore, to be­gin with, the coun­try needs to fo­cus on its tier 2 cities, in­stead of their tier 1 coun­ter­parts, in terms of mod­ern ur­ban plan­ning. This is es­pe­cially true with the grow­ing in­flux of mi­grants from ru­ral ar­eas and tier 3 cities to tier 2 and 1 cities. It is a time and cost-con­sum­ing idea to try to re-or­gan­ise the tier 1 cities, there­fore, tier 2 cities could be a plau­si­ble start­ing point. A gi­ant leap in tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tion, to­ward smart grid me­ter­ing in­fra­struc­ture, bet­ter traf­fic and con­ges­tion man­age­ment, and re­duced car­bon foot­print, is the way to go for the full-fledged im­ple­men­ta­tion of the ini­tia­tive in In­dia.”

Smart me­ter­ing

Smart me­ter­ing is at the heart of the smart grid and many me­ter­ing projects have failed to take off in many states. Asked about what ought to be done to lend impetus to smart me­ter­ing, Ru­dranil Roy Sharma said, “There is no fixed def­i­ni­tion of ‘Smart Grid’. Since it is an evolv­ing tech­nol­ogy, it is dif­fi­cult to de­fine it. In sim­pler terms, a smart grid so­lu­tion en­ables two-way com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween all the el­e­ments in a net­work – Gen­er­a­tion, Trans­mis­sion and Dis­tri­bu­tion. It helps in real-time mon­i­tor­ing and con­trol of the over­all net­work and in­creas­ing its ef­fi­ciency. Smart me­ter helps in this two-way com­mu­ni­ca­tion and hence it is not an over­state­ment that smart me­ter­ing lies at the heart of the smart grid. The Na­tional Smart Grid Mis­sion (NSGM) was launched in 2010 and as a first step, 14 smart grid pi­lot projects were rolled out across var­i­ous parts of the coun­try. These projects were launched to see the ef­fec­tive­ness of var­i­ous fea­tures of smart grid i.e. AMI, OMS, peak load man­age­ment, power qual­ity, mi­cro-grid and dis­trib­uted gen­er­a­tion; whether the claimed ben­e­fits have been achieved and whether it is fi­nan­cially vi­able to im­ple­ment these tech­nolo­gies on a larger scale. In­vest­ments for pi­lot projects were to be shared equally be­tween the Cen­tral govt and re­spec­tive dis­coms. It is sad to men­tion that till date, im­ple­men­ta­tion time­lines for these projects have been re­vised mul­ti­ple times, some dis­coms have im­ple­mented it par­tially, some are yet to im­ple­ment it and some projects have al­ready been can­celled and some new projects have been iden­ti­fied by the new govt. The new time­line has been set as 2017. Dis­com’s financial health and pre­pared­ness for next gen­er­a­tion tech­nol­ogy can be some of the rea­sons for such a huge de­lay in im­ple­men­ta­tion of these pi­lot projects. It has been de­cided that 130 mil­lion smart me­ters will be in­stalled in In­dia by 2021. Cus­tomers with a monthly con­sump­tion of 500kWh and above will get a smart me­ter in Phase-1 by De­cem­ber 2017 and cus­tomers with a monthly con­sump­tion of 200kWh and above, will get smart me­ter in Phase-2 by De­cem­ber 2019. A ma­jor chal­lenge in such mass im­ple­men­ta­tion of smart me­ter­ing pro­gramme is the cost of me­ter it­self. A good qual­ity smart me­ter costs ap­prox­i­mately $100 per piece. It is prac­ti­cally im­pos­si­ble to bear such a huge cost look­ing at the cur­rent financial health of dis­coms. Con­sumers will never agree to bear the cost of the me­ter though there are mer­its in adop­tion of a smart me­ter. The govt is yet to fig­ure out the right fund­ing model for such a mass roll-out of smart me­ter­ing pro­gramme. De­vel­op­ment of a low cost smart me­ter with basic func­tion­al­i­ties and cost as low as $ 20 per me­ter is under progress for many years now and it would be in­ter­est­ing to see when such a low cost me­ter hits the mar­ket how­ever, it is agreed that the cost of me­ter will even­tu­ally go down with bet­ter economies of scale through mass im­ple­men­ta­tion. In­no­va­tive fund­ing mod­els need to be worked out to make these projects vi­able. Ad­di­tion­ally, ex­perts men­tioned that sig­nif­i­cant in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment and ca­pac­ity build­ing is­sues need to be ad­dressed be­fore plan­ning a large-scale im­ple­men­ta­tion of smart me­ter­ing projects.”

About me­ter­ing projects, an In­dia Power spokesper­son said, “Me­ter­ing projects fail­ing in many of the states in In­dia can be

at­trib­uted to a lack of clear man­dates and poli­cies con­cern­ing the in­stal­la­tion of smart me­ters by the cen­tral and state gov­ern­ments. The coun­try is yet to com­pre­hend ef­fec­tively the vi­a­bil­ity of smart me­ter­ing in its states in terms of in­fra­struc­ture re­quire­ment and cost-ef­fec­tive­ness, and in over­com­ing power short­falls. By de­fault, in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment plan­ning in the coun­try needs to be stream­lined – iden­ti­fy­ing the gap and in­vest­ing re­sources ap­pro­pri­ately in ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy im­ple­men­ta­tion and faster up­grades. Most im­por­tantly, the aim should be clear be­hind the im­ple­men­ta­tion of smart me­ters for in­di­vid­ual states – re­duc­ing the ag­gre­gate tech­ni­cal and com­mer­cial losses of states and union ter­ri­to­ries.”

The In­dian power sys­tem is fourth-largest in the world. Asked to com­ment on smart grids as a game-changer in view of grid evac­u­a­tion is­sues, Ru­dranil Roy Sharma said, “The basic an­swer to grid evac­u­a­tion is­sues is to ex­pand the trans­mis­sion net­work to all parts of the coun­try – match­ing trans­mis­sion line and sub­sta­tion ca­pac­ity with gen­er­a­tion ca­pac­ity and en­ergy de­mand of a re­gion. Once the basic trans­mis­sion in­fra­struc­ture is in place, smart grid helps in real time mon­i­tor­ing and con­trol of the grid net­work, balanc­ing be­tween en­ergy gen­er­a­tion and de­mand across var­i­ous re­gions so that the sur­plus power of one re­gion is avail­able to the re­gion where power deficit sit­u­a­tion ex­ists. Smart grid, there­fore, helps in im­prov­ing en­ergy util­i­sa­tion of a coun­try and man­ag­ing peak de­mand in a more ef­fec­tive way. With more and more RE plants com­ing on stream, us­age of smart grid will be ab­so­lutely es­sen­tial for grid balanc­ing and sta­bil­ity. These RE pow­ers are in­ter­mit­tent in na­ture and not avail­able through­out the day. Hence, in­tel­li­gent balanc­ing of the grid through­out the day be­tween gen­er­a­tion points and load cen­tres will be of im­mense im­por­tance in com­ing days and that is where smart grid will play a very im­por­tant role.”

Queried about grid-re­lated chal­lenges, es­pe­cially in ru­ral In­dia and how ru­ral In­dia would ben­e­fit from smart grids, an In­dia Power spokesper­son said, “Most peo­ple in our coun­try, es­pe­cially in ru­ral In­dia, are obliv­i­ous of the process in which power is de­liv­ered to their houses. This man­dates the need to ed­u­cate con­sumers about the util­ity of smart grid tech­nol­ogy first, be­fore its im­ple­men­ta­tion. Con­sumers should be made aware of the ben­e­fits of a smart grid both in terms of its cost-ef­fec­tive­ness and as an en­vi­ron­men­tally healthy op­tion. One of the chronic prob­lems plagu­ing ru­ral In­dia is fre­quent power-cuts or spo­radic power sup­ply. Smart grids can pro­vide a so­lu­tion by im­part­ing en­ergy in­de­pen­dence to these re­gions. Im­ple­men­ta­tion of smart grids can be ren­dered com­plete or suc­cess­ful only if we start im­ple­ment­ing pro­to­types of the tech­nol­ogy through small and medium-sized pi­lot projects in dif­fer­ent ar­eas. We must re­mem­ber that ev­ery place will have its unique con­text and re­quire­ments in terms of de­vel­op­ment and in­fra­struc­ture. There­fore we should at all cost avoid any pol­icy that em­pha­sises on the “one size fits all” ap­proach with re­gards to the im­ple­men­ta­tion of smart grids in In­dia.”

About is­sues and chal­lenges in their suc­cess­ful im­ple­men­ta­tion and ad­van­tages and disad­van­tages of smart grids, an In­dia Power spokesper­son said, “Lack of aware­ness among con­sumers and in­ad­e­quate stan­dards and reg­u­la­tions con­cern­ing smart grid tech­nol­ogy are some of the big­gest hur­dles for smart grid im­ple­men­ta­tion in In­dia. Be­sides, there are other is­sues like cost, which is another ma­jor con­cern. For ex­am­ple, retrofitting of old equip­ment with new tech­nol­ogy may be cost-in­ten­sive and may not even be fea­si­ble in case of cer­tain non-com­pat­i­ble machin­ery and equip­ment. The cost of procur­ing new equip­ment may de­ter im­ple­men­ta­tion of smart tech­nolo­gies. It is true that im­ple­men­ta­tion of smart grids on a large scale in­volves crores of ru­pees, how­ever, the ben­e­fits to be reaped from in­stal­la­tion is also equally big. Be­sides ef­fi­cient me­ter read­ing and re­duced car­bon foot­print, smart grids also en­sure bet­ter qual­ity of power sup­ply, pro­tec­tion from power theft, re­duced equip­ment fail­ure and cost-ef­fec­tive power con­sump­tion among oth­ers. How­ever, with digi­ti­sa­tion of elec­tric­ity grids, ex­tra care should be taken to­wards ef­fi­cient data man­age­ment to pre­vent abuse of per­sonal data and in­for­ma­tion of con­sumers by cy­ber mis­cre­ants.”

On cy­ber se­cu­rity and fund­ing af­fect­ing the large-scale im­ple­men­ta­tion of smart grids, an In­dia Power spokesper­son said, “Be­sides cy­ber se­cu­rity and fund­ing is­sues, fac­tors like so­cio-po­lit­i­cal con­di­tions of a place can come in the way of suc­cess­ful im­ple­men­ta­tion of smart grids. Reg­u­la­tory and com­pli­ancere­lated poli­cies con­cern­ing tech­nol­ogy are yet not stream­lined in the coun­try. Be­sides, there

is lack of clar­ity in terms of a proper es­ti­mate about state-wise or city-wise re­quire­ment and pro­cure­ment con­di­tions. These fac­tors are im­ped­ing the growth of smart grids in In­dia.”

About whether state gov­ern­ments can help mit­i­gate is­sues of timely com­ple­tion of projects, Right-of-Way (RoW) is­sues, clear­ances, land ac­qui­si­tion, etc, an In­dia Power spokesper­son said, “Our power gen­er­a­tion ca­pa­bil­ity has peaked from 100 GW to 255 GW from 2001 to 2015 how­ever, the coun­try is still fac­ing as much as 10% of peak power deficit. A lack of plan­ning in trans­mis­sion in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment is what has led to this day. There are states that have sur­plus of power, while re­gions in the South like Tamil Nadu and Te­lan­gana face im­mense power deficit. Right of Way (RoW) and land avail­abil­ity are other hur­dles to com­ple­tion of smart grid projects, as there are no stan­dard rules or reg­u­la­tions for RoW com­pen­sa­tion, which leaves land-own­ers and devel­op­ers in doubt about the price of­fered as com­pen­sa­tion. The so­lu­tion lies ma­jorly in de­lin­eat­ing poli­cies and as­so­ci­ated fac­tors. For ex­am­ple, a clear time­line should be is­sued by state gov­ern­ments in their re­spec­tive ar­eas and ju­ris­dic­tions in re­ceiv­ing ap­provals from land-own­ers with penalty fees for fail­ure to meet dead­lines. It should be manda­tory for gov­ern­ments to take all the re­quired ap­provals from the re­spec­tive in­di­vid­u­als and de­part­ments be­fore start­ing off with a project.”

About the stan­dards com­pli­ance is­sue, Ru­dranil Roy Sharma said, “The Min­istry of Power (MoP) man­dated Cen­tral Elec­tric­ity Author­ity (CEA) to pre­pare the func­tional re­quire­ments and tech­ni­cal spec­i­fi­ca­tions for in­dige­nous smart me­ters. CEA re­leased the first edi­tion of the smart me­ter spec­i­fi­ca­tions in June 2013. How­ever, the dis­tri­bu­tion com­pa­nies im­ple­ment­ing 14 smart grid pi­lot projects is­sued dif­fer­ent spec­i­fi­ca­tions in dif­fer­ent states. This is­sue was brought to the at­ten­tion of MoP by In­dia Smart Grid Fo­rum (ISGF). MoP re­quested the Bu­reau of In­dian Stan­dards (BIS) to for­mu­late a na­tional stan­dard for smart me­ters. Sub­se­quently, BIS as­signed this task to the Tech­ni­cal Com­mit­tee under Elec­tro Tech­ni­cal Di­vi­sion (ETD- 13) to pre­pare the stan­dards for smart me­ters. In Au­gust 2015, BIS pub­lished the new Smart Me­ter Stan­dard, IS 16444: AC Static Di­rect Con­nected Watt hour Smart Me­ter – Class

1 and 2 Spec­i­fi­ca­tion cov­er­ing sin­gle phase en­ergy me­ters; three phase en­ergy me­ters; sin­gle phase en­ergy me­ters with net me­ter­ing fa­cil­ity and three phase en­ergy me­ters with net me­ter­ing fa­cil­ity. Another stan­dard IS 15959: Data Ex­change for Elec­tric­ity Me­ter Read­ing, Tar­iff and Load Con­trol — Com­pan­ion Spec­i­fi­ca­tion has been re­vised and pub­lished as IS 15959: Part 2-Smart Me­ter in March 2016.”

About the stan­dards com­pli­ance is­sue, an In­dia Power spokesper­son said, “With re­spect to reg­u­la­tions and com­pli­ance, the ap­proach should be holis­tic as well as cus­tomised by tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion the po­lit­i­cal and cul­tural re­al­i­ties of each in­di­vid­ual state and re­gion under con­sid­er­a­tion for smart grid im­ple­men­ta­tion. In ad­di­tion, to these fac­tors, re­source avail­abil­ity and con­straints should also be given equal im­por­tance. Poli­cies and reg­u­la­tions should be di­rected to­wards en­cour­ag­ing in­cen­tives for in­vest­ments. It must be re­mem­bered that the in­ter­est of con­sumers and that of sup­pli­ers and util­i­ties should match, with the con­sumers’ in­ter­est in low-cost power at the helm.”

In­cen­tives for in­vest­ments

Util­i­ties that in­vest in these tech­nolo­gies need clar­ity in terms of financial ben­e­fits. Com­ment­ing on this, Ru­dranil Roy Sharma said, “Def­i­nitely. Any kind of in­vest­ment should be linked with some kind of re­turn/ ben­e­fit in the longer term. Be it so­cial, eco­nomic or financial. One of the key rea­sons for im­ple­men­ta­tion of smart me­ter is re­duc­tion in com­mer­cial loss of dis­coms through ef­fi­ciency in me­ter read­ing and billing, zero power theft, ac­cu­rate en­ergy ac­count­ing and au­dit­ing. This would help dis­coms re­alise higher rev­enues and re­duce their loss and debt bur­den.”

About financial ben­e­fits for util­i­ties that in­vest in these tech­nolo­gies, an In­dia Power spokesper­son said, “To be hon­est, to the util­i­ties in In­dia, the ad­van­tages or ben­e­fits of smart grid tech­nol­ogy are yet to be re­alised or even en­vi­sioned. Im­ple­men­ta­tion of smart grids would mean in­stal­la­tion of new and ad­vanced equip­ment or retrofitting old equip­ment with the lat­est tech­nol­ogy. In the first case of procur­ing new machin­ery, util­i­ties and reg­u­la­tors have to bear the ini­tial high cost of pur­chas­ing these equip­ment, which can be an ad­di­tional load for those firms that have re­cently up­graded their ex­ist­ing electro­mechan­i­cal me­ters or older static equip­ment. In case of retrofitting, it is pos­si­ble that some equip­ment may not be com­pat­i­ble with the new tech­nol­ogy. Such

sit­u­a­tions also trans­late into ad­di­tional cost for power util­i­ties. There­fore, util­i­ties and dis­coms need clar­ity in pol­icy struc­tures re­lat­ing to smart grid tech­nol­ogy from the con­cerned au­thor­i­ties. Financial as­sis­tance is also nec­es­sary for cash-strapped util­i­ties that are peren­ni­ally reel­ing under neck-deep debt. Pri­vati­sa­tion and open source ac­cess is another way to re­duce the onus on these firms.”

On smart grids as a de­mand side man­age­ment tool, Ru­dranil Roy Sharma said, “A fea­ture of smart grid is De­mand Re­sponse Man­age­ment Sys­tem (DRMS). A DRMS so­lu­tion is usu­ally linked with a Smart Me­ter. Through this en­ergy con­sump­tion of a fa­cil­ity dur­ing peak time can eas­ily be tracked by the power con­sumers and the dis­tri­bu­tion util­ity. Based on in­for­ma­tion avail­able through smart me­ter, con­sumers can opt for peak shav­ing and re­duce their en­ergy con­sump­tion dur­ing peak hours. Al­ter­nately, util­i­ties can en­ter into an agree­ment with con­sumers for de­mand cur­tail­ment dur­ing peak hours. This de­mand cur­tail­ment can be on vol­un­tary ba­sis or can be au­to­matic through im­ple­men­ta­tion of Build­ing Man­age­ment Sys­tem (BMS). Ei­ther way, it helps in re­duc­tion and man­age­ment of peak de­mand.”

Elec­tric ve­hi­cles

Many peo­ple would love to buy elec­tric ve­hi­cles but fear get­ting stranded with­out suf­fi­cient charg­ing points. In this con­text, elec­tric car pi­o­neer Chetan Maini, founder of Reva, had re­port­edly sug­gested that the govt should come up with a PPP model to in­stall fast-charg­ing points and as per re­ports the Cen­tre too is work­ing on a pol­icy.

Com­ment­ing on smart grids as a de­mand side man­age­ment tool and as a nat­u­ral corol­lary for elec­tric ve­hi­cles, an In­dia Power spokesper­son said, “Smart grids are in­tended to al­low con­sumer’s vis­i­bil­ity on en­ergy con­sump­tion. One of the pri­mary ob­jec­tives of de­mand-side man­age­ment is to make con­sumers con­scious of elec­tric­ity us­age, to en­cour­age con­sumers to use less en­ergy dur­ing peak hours and to avoid the peak­ing load on the power sources and sub­se­quent power cuts. The smart grid tech­nol­ogy em­pow­ers con­sumers to make in­formed de­ci­sions. This has man­i­fold ef­fects – cost-sav­ing for com­mer­cial and do­mes­tic con­sumers, in­creased ef­fi­ciency of util­i­ties in power gen­er­a­tion and dis­tri­bu­tion, and bet­ter en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity. The pop­u­lar­ity and op­ti­mum use of elec­tric ve­hi­cles (EVs) can be achieved based on var­i­ous fac­tors such as ef­fec­tive in­te­gra­tion of util­i­ties with the elec­tric ve­hi­cle con­cept. For util­i­ties, the idea of trans­porta­tion elec­tri­fi­ca­tion is laden with chal­lenges re­lated to peak load man­age­ment, etc. Smart grids help in the ef­fec­tive use of power con­sump­tion in EVs by pro­vid­ing vis­i­bil­ity and con­trol to util­i­ties in man­ag­ing trans­former load and elec­tric­ity dis­tri­bu­tion ef­fi­ciently.”

The way ahead

On the way ahead for smart grids, Ru­dranil Roy Sharma said, “The way ahead is the quick im­ple­men­ta­tion of pi­lots, learn­ing the im­ple­men­ta­tion chal­lenges, take proper ac­tion on those chal­lenges and then sys­tem­atic roll out of smart grids from higher con­sum­ing to lower en­ergy con­sum­ing cat­e­gory. With more and more RE power com­ing to the Grid, Smart grid im­ple­men­ta­tion has to be time bound to reap the ben­e­fits in com­ing years.”

About the way ahead for smart grids, an In­dia Power spokesper­son said, “The way ahead is bright for smart grid im­ple­men­ta­tion in In­dia. If we can take care of po­lit­i­cal and reg­u­la­tory hur­dles, fu­ture of the power sec­tor in In­dia with in­cor­po­ra­tion of smart grids is highly promis­ing. Tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances in the form of smart me­ters and smart grids man­ag­ing peak load and de­mand­side re­sponses will lead to pros­per­ity in the long term and util­i­ties will get a lease of fresh air, over­com­ing decades of debt-rid­den sit­u­a­tion. Most im­por­tantly, con­sumers will be ben­e­fit­ted with an em­pow­ered trans­parency on power con­sump­tion lev­els, re­duced cost of elec­tric­ity, and greater ef­fi­ciency.”

At the re­cent In­dia Smart Grid Week 2016, Power Min­is­ter Piyush Goyal summed up the need to adopt smart grids in In­dia when he said, “Ev­ery di­men­sion of hu­man ex­is­tence can be trans­formed with qual­ity power and en­ergy. Smart grids and smart me­ters are the first step for In­dia to be­come a smart coun­try. Smart grids are ex­tremely im­por­tant to reach the last man at the bot­tom of the pyra­mid. Hence, we need to have in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions that are cost-ef­fec­tive, tech­nol­ogy- en­abled and give an equal op­por­tu­nity to all.”

In con­clu­sion, smart grids face many chal­lenges but if prop­erly im­ple­mented, they can of­fer mul­ti­ple ben­e­fits and be a vi­tal part of a sus­tain­able so­lu­tion to In­dia’s rapidly in­creas­ing en­ergy needs.

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