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TMCNet:  Early start helped us stay ahead of the curve in smart grid [Financial Express (India)]

[October 03, 2012]

Early start helped us stay ahead of the curve in smart grid [Financial Express (India)]

(Financial Express (India) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) With the share of infirm renewable power growing fast in India's electricity mix, maintaining grid discipline is going to be a serious challenge for system operators. But smart grid technology, a dynamic power management system, offers solutions. This is the reason the government is preparing road map for large-scale deployment of this technology in power distribution. Besides grid discipline, smart grid equipment can also be helpful in managing peak loads and reducing technical and commercial losses. In an interview to FE's Noor Mohammad, Reliance Infrastructure CEO Lalit Jalan discusses potential benefits of deployment of smart grid equipment in the Indian context. Excerpts: How can smart grid technology help in the Indian context One of the strongest and starkest realisations for all stakeholders in our country's economic development is about the drastic reform and modernisation required for India's power sector. A critical challenge faced by the power sector is the exceptionally high technical & commercial (AT&C) losses, prevalent across all distribution utilities. The recent back to back grid failures leading to a complete blackout of the entire northern half of the country, affecting over 600 million people, was as much due to the lack of investment in capacity building and modernisation as it was due to excess withdrawals by the states. This has brought to light the inevitability of employing smart grid systems in the power sector.


On an average, power purchase costs typically constitute up to 80% of the total cost of the distribution operation. The remaining 20% is attributed to other costs such as operation & maintenance, financing, etc. Implementation of smart grid can help reduce losses due to upgradation and modernisation of network, better management of peak load and better energy efficiency which will also drive tariff reduction.

In addition, it is widely understood that the new services enabled by the smart grid will include different rate designs that encourage curtailment of peak loads and are more energy efficient. Some key examples include dynamic pricing and inclining block rates.

Has Reliance Infra been using smart grid For Reliance Infrastructure, smart grid is not a one-time project. "Smartening" of grids has been happening constantly. We regularly undertake large-scale, system-wide demonstrations to determine solutions that can be deployed at full scale, integrating the full set of smart grid technologies with existing electricity infrastructure.

Our investments in AMI (advanced metering infrastructure) started way back in 2005 and we have already deployed a state-of-the-art SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition), GIS (geographic information system), OMS (outage management system) and ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems, which are well integrated with all of our current operations.

Reliance Infrastructure understood the need for a smart grid at a time when these concepts were unheard of in the country. This has helped us stay ahead of the curve in the smart grid sector. Starting in 2005, our company had deployed close to a quarter million units of automated meter reading modems (AMR modems) & MDAS system for its premium, high value and LT consumers & for other utilities under the RAPDRP programme for customers like MSEDCL, JVVNL, JDVVNL, AVVNL, etc. Use of real time SCADA/DMS (distribution management system) interface with GIS has resulted in a 60% reduction in power interruption time and better power quality. We also have OMS which reflects the outage areas in GIS and ensures faster response time for complaints.

What are the challenges to smart grid adoption in India The smart grid can be described as the merging of two networks: The power network, which consists of the generation, transmission, and distribution grid; and The modern communications network.

The first step is to understand the smart grid communications network as a truly integrated network, rather than as parts of separate, vertically integrated application silos. This parallels the evolution of enterprise and telecommunications networks over the last 20 or 30 years into a single, integrated voice/video/ data network.

Traditionally, wired communication systems offered a reliable method for data transmission. However, with most substations remotely located, operators come across many communication challenges. Wireless technologies such as public cellular networks or standards-based technology for private networks (WiMAX, Wi-Fi) can be faster and less costly to deploy.

Due to such advantages, these technologies will increasingly find more and more takers and help the power sector step into the next orbit of operational excellence.

Tell us about the potential of India to tap green power for consumption Green energy is certainly the future of power, and world over efforts are being made to make it an integral part of government policy road maps. The government has set the green power target 10% by 2015. The state regulators have started implementing it proactively.

Smart grid technology is also pegged to be a crucial driver for green energy. This is because, in a smart grid system, customers are equipped with smart meters that help to understand and manage their energy usage time. This will therefore enable the customers to shift a part of their consumption to support green energy.

Copyright 2012 The Indian Express Online Media Pvt. Ltd., distributed by Contify.com Credit: Noor Mohammad (c) 2012 The Indian Express Online Media Pvt. Ltd., distributed by Contify.com

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