Digitisation of the power grid will not only improve optimisation of resources, but also reduce the electricity cost.
In the coming years, the Internet of Things (IoT) is poised to make smart grids even smarter. The electricity delivery system proves to be a grid in continuous transition from a demand driven to a bidirectional energy system. While digital technologies are helping the industry shift from a traditional analogue enterprise to an interconnected and flexible structure; upcoming energy sources are making distributed energy a perfect alternative to the established large central generation plant.
As per a recent report by IDC, IoT analytics and cloud capabilities are particularly important for utilities planning to oversee and control equipment across the network of assets and manage their grid environments. In the Indian context, digitisation offers tremendous opportunities for improving competency of power distribution. Our country, for a long time, has addressed the energy equation from the supply side - ensuring that the electricity generated satiates the demand. However, depending only on the supply side solutions will neither reduce carbon emission, nor energy consumption or wastage.
Today, not only are we more connected and distributed but also better equipped to address the problem from the demand side as well. A prerequisite to extracting optimal efficiency of power discoms is the amalgamation of energy, automation, software and analytics. This makes the energy value chain more intelligent and also more predictable.
Digitisation of the power grid in the country will improve optimisation of resources, ultimately reducing the cost of electricity in India. This can lower our AT&C losses, both technical and commercial losses to a sizeable extent. With more digitisation, we will be able to cut more losses.
The aforementioned report by IDC states that, modern day technological advancements such as the Internet of Things (IoT), analytics and cloud are indispensable parts of any kind of digital transformation and can provide a lucrative platform for digitising the grid. A connected smart grid on these lines will unfalteringly enable consistent and real time monitoring of energy distribution and transmission assets, among other things. The energy,which is actually being produced but not consumed, is getting into the network with its average cost destined to reduce.
Today, one is paying for the inefficiencies also. Less inefficiency would mean lower costs. Thus, it is evident that digitisation will improve the distribution network in the power sector. Cyber security will also become an integral part of such an IT convergence.
Challenges in the way
Though power generation in India is quite significant in terms of volume, the key issue is that we still have a long way to go in terms of last mile connectivity. This is of crucial importance if the ambitious vision of 'power for all' is to be achieved.
There also exist infrastructural challenges in digitisation of the grid. Many existing outdated and old equipment do not have sensors and require intensive engagements. This is more or less the case in Brownfield projects. In terms of Greenfield projects, sensors are being embedded as a part of the product.
Schneider Electric designed open IoT-enabled framework aims to ensure higher efficiency in grid operations, optimal asset management and facilitate an overall shift towards digitisation of power distribution in the country to achieve the Centre's goal of providing reliable 24*7 power for all. The company is presently working with various state discoms to provide digital technologies for the grid.
As per industry estimates, the energy usage, propelled by factors such as global megatrends, including urbanisation, digitisation and industrialisation is expected to grow by 50 per cent by 2050. Besides, demand for electricity is also expected to add to this consumption. The utility companies, in such a scenario, are required to pace up to meet the mushrooming demand by not only providing 24X7 power for all but also making energy affordable, sustainable and environment friendly. 'Attaining efficiency' in electricity generation as well as distribution is indispensable in the current times, given the looming concerns associated with climate change.
Making energy smart
The evolution of technologies such as cloud and Internet of things (IoT) is making energy efficient across all segments. Such smart technologies are making real time data collection, analytics and predictive maintenance possible. There are some products from Schneider Electric, which help Distribution System Operators (DSOs), manage the complexity arising from digitalisation of utilities and are of an open, interoperable, IoT-enabled system architecture and platform targeted at several verticals, including the grid market and DSOs.
Author: Anil Kadam, GM - Business Development and Solution Architect, Schneider Electric
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