Smart Power Solutions for Smart Cities

By Ayushee Sharma

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Sustainable generation of electricity is usually done using available renewable options such as solar rooftops, wind and biomass

Most smart cities have the same amenities that vary a little depending on the geographical region. Without an uninterrupted supply of power, a city cannot be holistically smart or provide e-mobility for applications like smart poles, CCTV surveillance, smart parking lots, etc. One of the best possible ways to ensure no power outages is the use of a smart grid.

According to www.amarketresearchreport.com, the smart grid technology market is expected to register a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23 per cent during 2019-2026. Explaining the importance of smart grid, Amruth Puttappa, founder, ThingsCloud, says, “A smart grid self-detects the concerns and heals the network on its own without any manual intervention. This makes smart grid inverters more reliable and secure during natural disasters. A smart grid improves strength of the distributed energy generation system and enables the option for more solar rooftop systems and small wind turbines.”

Prior to installation of the grid at a location, processes like load analysis, site and resource evaluation need to be carried out. Accordingly, financing options can be determined once location-specific modelling and construction is finalised. Transformers mounted on poles, underground feeder pillars and so on help in dealing with space constraints when it comes to outdoor applications.

EVs increase electricity demand, which adds stress to the local distribution system. Smart charging solutions, like re-charging overnight, can help minimise this. EVs could feed electricity back to the grid at times of high demand and contribute to stability of the charging grid. These could also act as distributed batteries for storage.

By upgrading the existing transmission and distribution system, reduced loss levels can be achieved. Puttappa explains, “If the source is closer to the consumer, transmission loss can be reduced. Utilisation of microgrids always ensures minimal transmission and distribution losses. We should start considering standalone solar systems for rural areas in addition to more rooftop systems.”

There must be alternatives to cater to emergencies in even the most remote areas. Energy storage is essential as renewable energies like solar or wind are episodical. Further, appliances and electrical accessories need to provide high energy efficiency. Companies like AlphaTech provide UPS modules as a power backup option for the most extreme conditions.

In addition to installation, monitoring of services through intelligent automation for maintenance is necessary to reduce clean energy wastage. Automation is required at sub-station, feeder and customer levels. At sub-station level automation, manufacturers are including intelligent built-in protection and controlled electronic devices in the switchgear to enhance reliability. The feeder reconfigures itself in cases of faults through sensors, control switches and communication systems. Integration of all systems is achieved through fibre-optic or wireless networks.

To handle distribution, especially in peak hours, smart meters allow consumers to choose their electricity plan and monitor their bills in real time, effectively. These meters use low-energy radio frequency (RF) waves to eliminate the need for manual labour for meter reading, giving hundred per cent accuracy. “Cloud-based remote monitoring systems can send alerts to concerned individuals, if needed,” adds Puttappa.

When consumption is supply-oriented rather than demand-based, transparency is established throughout the system. Crucial areas such as hospitals and police stations get continuous electricity, and other consumers can utilise non-peak hours to meet their larger demands and achieve monetary savings. Once seamless power supply is achieved, rest of the smart city goals can be easily focused on.


 

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