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Feature | August 2016

Discoms need to integrate smart grid systems with R-APDRP, IT & SCADA systems

Murali Krishna Gannamani | Managing Director & CEO, Fluentgrid Limited

What are some projects your company is working on? Kindly elaborate on the work
. 1.1 Assam Power Distribution Company Limited: It is among the 13 pilot projects under NSGM. Our role involves overall project system integration and project management, operations and FMS along with supply of related HW and SW products. The project covers 15,000 consumers. The main project deliverable is integration of the smart meters with the smart grid system. The application softwares namely PLM, OMS, DG etc. would be implemented. The system would be finally integrated with the ERP and the already existing RAPDRP and SCADA module. The application software namely mPower MDMS, PLM, PQM, OMS, DSM, consumer portal, EV charging, distributed generation, etc. would be implemented.

1.2 Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board: It is also among the 13 pilot projects under NSGM. Alstom is the lead system integrator. We implemented its mPower MDMS product apart from integration with existing systems. The project is underway and we have recently completed Factory Acceptance Test (FAT).

1.3 Advanced Electronics Company, Saudi Arabia: The project scope includes remote meter data collection, analysis, and maintaining complex relations between meters, devices, consumers, premises, network hierarchy, geographical hierarchy and it also monitors reliability of meter communication, data integrity, and network monitoring of DC. The communication infra for the reference site included PLC communication from meters, GPRS/CSD for DCU as well as Gateways. The project is underway where we recently completed FAT.

Tell us about the challenges and benefits brought about from your completed projects.
3.1 Assam Power Distribution Company Limited: The key challenge during the project implementation included Meter Installation. The key benefits of the project implementation include: increased available energy during peak time, revenue increase through power quality measurements and power factor penalty, reduction in AT&C losses, reduction in interest payments due to deferred capital investment in sub-transmission networks, improvement of availability (reduction of customer minutes lost), unscheduled interchange using short term load forecasts.

3.2 Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board: The key challenges during the project implementation included communication stability issues and master data availability. The key benefits of the project implementation include: shifting peak load, reduction in penalties, reduction in outages.

Are there any government projects you working on?
2.1 Da Afghan Breshna Sherkat, Chaman Houzori, Kabul, Afghanistan: The scope of work includes: Customer Information System (CIS), Meter Data management (MDM) System, MIS/BI and Computerized Asset and Maintenance Management System. The software product included mPowerTM suite. Key benefits of the project implementation include: increased available energy during peak time and reduction in AT&C losses.

2.2 Assam Power Distribution Company Limited: The scope of work includes: AMI for industrial, commercial and residential consumers, outage management, load forecasting, AT&C loss reduction, peak load management, demand side management and demand response, power quality management, renewable energy integration. Expected date of completion is December 2016. The software product included mPowerTM, SOA complaint and BPM capabilities, while the key benefits of the project will be: increased available energy during peak time, revenue increase through power quality measurements and power factor penalty, reduction in AT&C losses, reduction in interest payments due to deferred capital investment in sub-transmission networks, improvement of availability (reduction of customer minutes lost), and unscheduled interchange using short term load forecasts.

2.3 Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Ltd: The scope of work included turnkey implementation of solutions for - CIS/CRM/CSS, Revenue Protection system, MIS /BI, MDMS and integration with GIS, AMI, AM/MM, IDAMS etc. The software product included mPowerTM, SOA complaint and BPM capabilities. The key benefits included, improvement of availability (reduction of customer minutes lost), and reduction in AT&C losses.

What is the present status of Smart Grids in India?
India has the 4th largest power system in the world, which has doubled in the last 10 years. Additionally, India´s power grid system is also extremely diverse and extensive in terms of its geography. To overcome the various challenges currently present in the power transmission and distribution (T&D) systems, there is a need to bring in a certain agility and intelligence to the Indian power grid system. Towards this, the Government of India has launched the National Smart Grid Mission (NSGM), an institutional mechanism for planning, monitoring and implementation of policies and programs related to smart grid activities, to effectively implement goals that they conceived in the smart grid vision and roadmap.

The Ministry of Power (MoP) had allocated 14 smart grid pilot projects for implementation by various state-owned distribution utilities in India. Of these, 10 have been and are in various stages of initiation and implementation while four have been cancelled. While there is a clear commitment and way forward with three more projects in the pipeline, India is an early phase of this transformation. However, in the extent of the challenge that is ahead of the country, lies a great opportunity for the government and other stakeholders to come together in improving the lives of people.

What are the challenges ahead in the implementation of Smart Grids in India?
From our learnings, so far one of the primary challenges we have faced in smart grid implementation is standardisation of digital assets. For instance, there was delay in the standardisation of the specifications of smart meters. Different projects have different specifications and once the BIS-16444 standards for smart meters was finalised, meters needed to be customised and changed to suit its requirement. Additionally, utilities are not experienced enough to work with smart meters and communication technologies. For instance, there is a lack understanding regarding which communications technologies are applicable in certain geographies. When it comes to smart grid applications, there is a gap in understanding the design parameters and functionality of the applications, thereby also increasing delay in the approval processes.

The discoms have a pertinent need further to integrate the smart grid systems with the R-APDRP, IT and SCADA systems in various stages of implementation in their states. Integrations with these systems have further needed the utilities to substantiate coordination with the various implementation agencies in the states. Towards this end, training and capacity building in the sector has to increase. Post overcoming these challenges, SIs then have to put in substantial time and effort in integrating new technologies and applications into existing infrastructure.

Apart from this, while moving from a regime to supply side control to load control, another key challenge is customer engagement in order to influence their behavior. Some of the other challenges include regulatory legislative uncertainty, data privacy and cyber security.

How technology savvy is India in this sector?
There are many technology areas that require to be deployed across the grid. For the distribution sector, a few key technologies are the distribution grid management systems, smart meters, advance metering infrastructure, hybrid communication technologies and customer-oriented systems.

Given the various stages of implementation of the ongoing projects, some of these technologies are actively being deployed. However, others still require further development and adoption. While India is savvy in the knowledge of these technologies, the procurement process causes a delay in adoption.

How optimistic are you about achieving the roadmap target of reducing AT&C losses to below 12 per cent by 2022?
With the ICT implementation on the grid system, the power sector´s capacity in diagnostics has strengthened. There is a now a way to map activity across the network area of the city from T&D, right to consumption. This access to near real time data without manual intervention, and the ability to analyse it will allow utilities to address AT&C losses in a way that was not possible before.

What does the future of Smart Grid development in India look like?
The government´s commitment and vision of the smart grid mission is commendable and there is a workable roadmap in place. While there is a tremendous opportunity in front of us, there is a need to see a lot more traction towards the vision. Commission of larger projects and efforts to build a workforce for implementation is the key to success for this mission.

Progress Flow Chart

  • Secretary (Power) reviewed the progress of pilot projects of SG on 31st May 2016
  • Secy. (P) asked EESL, REC, PFC to do atleast one full scale SG project on revenue sharing basis
  • Second ´Manthan´ held on 23rd May 2016 at Hotel Ashok, New Delhi
  • Presentations of second ´Manthan´ available at ´Resource Center -> Presentations´
  • Empowered Comm. approved SG projects at Chandigarh (CED) and Amravati (MSEDCL)
  • 1st Empowered Comm. meeting held on 29th March 2016 under Chairmanship of Secy. (P)
  • 1st Tech. Comm. meeting held on 11th March 2016 under Chairmanship of Chairperson, CEA
  • First ´Manthan´ held on 9th March 2016 with participants from relevant stakeholders
  • Prabhu N Singh, IAS (UP:2007) joined as First Director of NPMU on 20th January 2016
  • Guidelines for Implementation of NSGM released on 18th November 2015
  • Constituents of NSGM Hierarchy released on 1st June 2015
  • National Smart Grid Mission approved by Ministry of Power on 27th March 2015
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