SMART GRIDS

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Anil Kadam, Se­nior Man­ager, En­ergy Busi­ness, Schneider Elec­tric In­dia speaks about the Na­tional Smart Grid Mis­sion and In­dia’s pre­pared­ness for im­ple­men­ta­tion of smart grid tech­nolo­gies in an in­ter­view with Mon­ica Chaturvedi Charna...

What are the key smart grid so­lu­tions of­fered by Schneider here and abroad?

The elec­tric­ity mar­ket is chang­ing. And ev­ery day, end-users’ ex­pec­ta­tions in­crease in terms of re­li­a­bil­ity and qual­ity, and they gain greater aware­ness of en­ergy’s en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact. It’s an evo­lu­tion. But as our re­liance on elec­tric­ity grows glob­ally, the ways in which we pro­duce, dis­trib­ute, and use en­ergy must also evolve. The so­lu­tion will not only in­volve smarter de­mand, but also smarter sup­ply, and as such, a smarter grid is at the heart of the is­sue. Schneider’s smart grid so­lu­tions in­clude: Smart medium volt­age/low volt­age equip­ment Sub­sta­tion au­to­ma­tion Feeder au­to­ma­tion En­hanced dis­tri­bu­tion man­age­ment so­lu­tions Mi­cro­grid con­trol Volt/VAr man­age­ment Real-time con­di­tion mon­i­tor­ing Elec­tric ve­hi­cle load man­age­ment

Is Schneider lever­ag­ing on the govt’s Na­tional Smart Grid Mis­sion?

In­dia is def­i­nitely ready for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of smart grid projects. The es­tab­lish­ment of Na­tional Smart Grid Mis­sion (NSGM), which will have its own re­sources, in­de­pen­dence and statu­tory au­thor­ity to plan and mon­i­tor smart grid im­ple­men­ta­tion in In­dia, is a pos­i­tive step in this di­rec­tion.

How was last year and go­ing for­ward, what pol­icy changes would lend im­pe­tus to the sec­tor?

The In­dian econ­omy has demon­strated its re­silience and con­tin­u­a­tion of pos­i­tive op­ti­mism dur­ing the last year. While var­i­ous pol­icy changes are al­ready is­sued by the govern­ment to drive re­forms, the In­dian in­dus­try is keenly await­ing the an­nounce­ment of pos­i­tive leg­isla­tive re­forms to be passed at the ear­li­est – such as GST, the Real Es­tate Reg­u­la­tory Bill and Land Ac­qui­si­tion Bill, among oth­ers. GST will im­part an im­mense boost to eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity across In­dia and also trans­form uni­ver­sal sen­ti­ment, fos­ter­ing fur­ther the pos­i­tive per­cep­tions about In­dia as a ro­bust in­vest­ment desti­na­tion. Pos­i­tive steps in this di­rec­tion will boost in­fra­struc­ture im­prove­ment and growth. Mean­while, as Smart Cities’ pro­gramme gath­ers mo­men­tum with re­cent con­fir­ma­tion of 20 cities in the first phase, higher bud­get al­lo­ca­tions will be most wel­come to en­sure faster im­ple­men­ta­tion of projects on ground across the coun­try.

To pro­vide 24x7 elec­tric­ity, the govern­ment has taken sev­eral pol­icy mea­sures and land­mark de­ci­sions for gen­er­a­tion of power, strength­en­ing of trans­mis­sion and dis­tri­bu­tion, sep­a­ra­tion of feed­ers and me­ter­ing of power to con­sumers. The in­no­va­tive ini­tia­tives taken and poli­cies floated by the govern­ment in the sphere of re­new­ables is laud­able as well. But the in­dus­try is yet to ex­pe­ri­ence the ben­e­fits of the same in terms of or­ders growth from faster ex­e­cu­tion of th­ese projects.

What are the key ar­eas of the dis­tri­bu­tion net­work that need im­me­di­ate at­ten­tion be­fore smart grid be­comes a re­al­ity in In­dia?

Smart grid is an evolv­ing set of tech­nolo­gies to trans­form the elec­tric­ity grid in to a more in­tel­li­gent and re­li­able grid with in­te­grated con­trol cen­tre that can mon­i­tor and con­trol elec­tric­ity flow in real time, up to each in­di­vid­ual cus­tomer and even up to the smart ap­pli­ances in­side a cus­tomer’s house, of­fice or fac­tory. How­ever, in In­dia, the big­gest chal­lenge is that al­though In­dia has one of the largest elec­tric­ity grids in the world with 290 GW gen­er­a­tion ca­pac­ity, over 250 mil­lion peo­ple are not con­nected to the grid and sev­eral parts of the coun­try ex­pe­ri­ence fre­quent power cuts. The power in­fra­struc­ture is also plagued by chal­lenges such as those re­lat­ing to ca­pac­ity, high power theft, trans­mis­sion and dis­tri­bu­tion (T&D) losses and ag­gre­gate tech­ni­cal and com­mer­cial (AT&C) losses. While mil­lions of In­di­ans still have no or lim­ited ac­cess to elec­tric­ity, power out­ages and poor sup­ply qual­ity are other ma­jor chal­lenges ham­per­ing the sec­tor’s growth. All of th­ese chal­lenges need to be ad­dressed for smart grid tech­nol­ogy to be suc­cess­ful.

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