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Feature | August 2016

Technology is the backbone of smart grids

Shrirang Karandikar | CEO, India Power Corporation Limited.

What is the status of Smart Grids in India?

Currently in India, the Ministry of Power (MoP) has decided to develop smart grid in stages by taking up pilot smart grid projects. MoP set up the India Smart Grid Task Force (ISGTF) and India Smart Grid Forum (ISGF) to help prepare a roadmap for smart grid rollout and 14 smart grid pilots were approved for execution. These will be evaluated for techno-commercial benefits, technology evaluation and then scaled out into full projects.

What are the challenges ahead?
As we migrate from the current grid with its one way power flows from central generation to dispersed loads, toward a new grid with two way power flows, peer-to-peer customer interactions, and distributed generation, there are many challenges in integration of various technologies.

1.Inter-operability: As smart grid is spanning the globe and many players are into manufacturing and implementation of smart grid worldwide, it is necessary for the system to adopt inter-operable standards.
2.Cyber security: Information and communication infrastructures will play an important role in connecting and optimising the available grid layers. Smart grid architecture should support the capability to resist unwanted physical and cyber intrusions and protect the privacy of customers.
3.Communication Technologies: Various technologies are being deployed for the smart grid data communication network. Issues of concern are cost, success rate of communication, technological issues viz. electro magnetic interference (EMF), signal to noise ratio (SNR), baud rate, parity check, etc.
4.Social Barriers: No program will be successful until and unless the end users participate in the program. There are many concerns of consumers about the smart grid issue. Awareness programs are necessary and clear benefits must be presented to them.

What are the latest technologies that India can utilise?
Technology is the backbone of smart grids. This concept is real time two-way communication of power equipment with their respective control rooms - power distribution, sub-station automation, relays, breakers, smart meters etc.

Can we reduce AT&C losses to below 12 per cent by 2022?
Yes. Smart grid technology was introduced to India with the aim of reducing AT&C losses through real time monitoring of power consumption, along with facilities allowing for remote connection and disconnection of consumers who have not paid their electricity bills on time, and also to provide reliable power supply to consumers.

What does the future of smart grid development in India look like?
The present power grid uses technology from the 1970s, but are this is beginning to improve through progress in the concept of power generation, problems with power outages and theft, and also due to the demand. We need a modernised grid to fit the needs of the customers and this can be achieved through ┬┤smart grid┬┤. The smart grid performs various functions, like increasing network stability, reliability, efficiency and ultimately reduces conduction losses. It allows for two-way processing for distributed generation. Various advanced components and technologies such as sensors and measurement, are used for the successful functioning of this network.

How many smart grid projects is your company working on? Kindly elaborate on the progress.
In our Gaya DF area of operation, we are in the process of installing smart meters on pilot basis for approximately 1,400 consumers.

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