Role of Smart Meters in Energy Distribution & Consumption

India, since the year 2000 has almost doubled its energy consumption. As of 2019, over 900 million electric were recorded owing to the rapid increase in economic growth aligned with the rise in population.

The ever-increasing young population has compelled the government policymakers to shift their focus from being a predominantly agricultural economy to a leading IT service provider, and the rollout of initiatives such as “Make in India” and a rising number of smart cities have spiralled the need for efficient, reliable and continuous power supply.

However, India’s power sector is plagued by AT&C losses, inefficient distribution, interrupted transmission and power theft. As most of our country still rely on age-old power infrastructure, an initiative for a complete overhauling of the electrical infrastructure is not a viable option for the government; but setting up control and measures around the day-to-day electrical equipment operations is a much needed alternative. This has mandated a need for advanced energy management tools and techniques.

Awareness of Smart Meters and the crucial and prompt benefits they can bring to consumers is critical. Smart Meters transmits information to the consumer about peak demand, energy consumption pattern and cost thereby enabling the consumer to opt for non peak-load timings. This has brought an immense change in the energy management system and consumer behaviour towards energy utilization.

Smart Meters in Energy Systems

The traditional meters have long outlived their usefulness; while the energy priorities have transformed from being about connectivity to efficiency. This transformation called for more flexible, intelligent and digitally monitored self-healing energy systems.

Smart Meters did just that. Their two-way communication helped monitor distribution from the source to the point of consumption. This process helped minimize power disruptions and deliver only the required amount of electricity; thereby helping the end customer reap the benefits of low-cost power, reliability and most importantly reduced carbon emissions.

The Smart Meter installations do not require overhauling or reinvention of the existing infrastructure. The retrofitting relies on small devices that can be easily mounted onto a designated place with access to a grid port. This ensures the preservation of commitments such as the manufacturer's guarantee and digital networks. These meters are equipped with IoT devices that collect energy consumption data and send them to the central systems.

Power Grid Problems & Smart Meter Solution

The electric grid system in India has been suffering from underinvestment for years, and now we face pressing challenges of fluctuating demand and supply apart from deteriorating infrastructure. High congestion levels in transmission lines are increasing the congestion rent. This greatly reduces the efficiency of electricity generation and distribution. In the process of transmission and distribution, the electricity wasted will account for up to 5 %.

Based on statistics, about 10% of the total electricity generated is not consumed due to geographical, physical or climatic conditions.

“Smart Grid and Data Collection” will be an up-gradation to the ailing infrastructure of the electric grid. In simple terms, the smart grid will bestow a wide range of new technologies with Smart Meters at the very heart of this chain.

This will allow two-way communication between consumers and the energy network, enabling real-time, automatic responses to changes in electric demand.

Monitoring every household in real-time will offer a significant reduction in peak demand. Thus energy will be balanced efficiently.

The Ministry of Power has instituted the ISGF (Indian Smart Grid Forum) which works closely with public, private and research organizations for developing standards and policies. ISGF helps deploy 'Smart Meters' assuring efficient energy management for all stakeholders.

The Smart Meter is thus a significant constituent of the smart grid and is expected to provide cost-effective, social, and ecological advantages for various stakeholders.