Smart Grid Solutions - Energy Challenges Panacea

"The best way to PREDICT the future is to DESIGN it." – Buckminster Fuller

Smart Grid is a single electricity network that acts as a two-way communication system between the central electricity grid and the end user, transmitting electricity and data through the same line. Smart Grid technology is an integrated IT system that has complete information about electricity generation, distribution, and utilization of electricity in real time over a given period. It comprehensively reads the electricity load of the grid at any given time to control power consumption and predict usage in the future. Unlike the conventional electricity grid, smart grid delivers the end user the advantage of power management by providing the authority to make informed choices completely driven by data. This is done by installing smart meters to replace conventional electricity metering devices by the user. Apart from generating usage analysis, even at the end-user level, it can have a profound impact on the power generation and distribution system of the country. In this article let us discuss how smart grid can address some of the most common energy challenges faced by India.

Reduce Transmission and Distribution Losses

Nearly 20 percent of the energy produced by Indian power generation companies is lost during transmission. This number is twice the world average. In the 2021-2022 financial year, power distribution companies incurred a loss of Rs. 59000 crores due to T&D losses. T&D losses are caused due to various factors including poor infrastructure, theft, and the inability to implement advanced technologies to track usage.

India’s ‘power for all’ program reached almost 100 percent of the villages covering a total distance of 425,071 circuit kilometress (2019-2020). The mission of Indian smart grid projects is to carry power to the farthest corners of the transmission lines which is possible only with a system that has a minimal loss, high reliability, and efficiency.

Peak Load Management

Smart Grid envisages significant benefits from the Demand Response approach. Demand Based approach is a data-driven approach in which the power generation and transmission are carried out based on the consumer’s usage trends. By categorizing the consumers’ usage, a roadmap can be formulated depending on their usage pattern, throughout the year. Thus, preventing the grid from straining too much at times of high demand.

Furthermore, reductions in peak load translate into reduced energy consumption leading to deferral of future capital investments and efficient management of the available resources.

Switch to Green Energy

“Our universe is a sea of energy – free, clean energy. It is all out there waiting for us to set sail upon it” – Robert Adams

In line with the Green energy initiatives, the local and the national government are showing interest in integrating various renewable energy sources like solar, hydro, and wind energy to reduce and replace the conventional coal-dependent thermal power plants. With a rising number of Electric Vehicles, smart meters are going to become a mandatory aspect of the power grid at the end-user level. Data analytics using the data from the meters equips the grid management to forecast load and manage the consequent impact on the grid thereby enabling better renewable energy integration with the grid’s functionality.

Improved Asset management

Advanced Big Data Analytics of Smart Grid Technology predicts maintenance strategies to improve uptimes, performance, and availability of crucial assets while reducing the amount of unscheduled maintenance to minimize maintenance-related costs and prevent unnecessary disruptions of the operation.

For the customers, it results in uninterrupted delivery of power. Smart metering provides users with information on their usage patterns. Thus, helping the government target users with a more effective demand response, enabling cost savings for customers.

Conclusion :

In spite of India being an energy surplus country and among the largest electricity producers, people face interrupted power services because of still developing power management systems. Implementation of Smart grid infrastructure is going to bring a blanket solution for reducing T&D losses. The new technology will enable the grid to manage peak load and self-regulate the load without constant physical intervention. Switching to green energy is also a priority that will be achieved by smart grids. With improved asset management through this technology, the power utility industries are going to see only a trend of growth and efficiency in the future.

The much anticipated Electricity Amendment Bill, 2022 was introduced before Lok Sabha today (August 8, 2022) by R.K. Singh, Cabinet Minister for Power and Renewable Energy. The bill has proposed amendments to the Energy Conservation Act, with the primary objective to allow the entry of private companies into the energy distribution sector and to enhance competition in the retail distribution of power. The amendment to the Electricity Act would also allow sufficient and efficient storage to provide sufficient power for the consumers and ensure the sustainability of the power sector. This amendment allows open access to distribution networks of power suppliers, which in turn will enable consumers to choose from any service provider. This electricity amendment act will eradicate inconsistencies and streamline operations of the electricity sector. With sound developmental policies and pooled efforts, India is forging ahead in the direction of becoming one of the most energy-efficient countries in the world.