Ed­i­tor's Note

Power Watch India - - NEWS -

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.

R Srini­vasan

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