“It will take India at least five years to realise the full impact of smart grid”

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IEEE-SA recently published IEEE 1901 broadband-over-power-line (BPL) communications standard that enables communication data rates in excess of 500 Mbps. For the fast growing Indian market, BPL technology will enable access to affordable communication to the country’s vast rural network. Despite India’s power grid being not as advanced as developed countries’, it is likely to make an impact as its benefits far outweigh its drawbacks. Corporate India could quickly embrace BPL because of its inherent advantages over Ethernet. At present, broadband connection has a speed of 100 Mbps, but BPL promises 200 Mbps and an easy-to-use connection within 30 minutes.

Apart from consumer-based advantages, other opportunities include automatic energy meter reading, real-time system monitoring, preventive maintenance, voltage control, outage detection and restoration, load management on the power grid, load scheduling, load forecasting, capacitor bank control and development of smart grids, which could add to conservation of energy and improve system reliability, service and safety for electricity customers.

IEEE-SA will also publish the IEEE P2030 standard and the IEEE guide for smart grid interoperability of energy technology and information technology operation with the electric power system, and end-use applications and loads later this year.

What kinds of problems are you facing here?
Too many. The significant ones are low metering efficiency, adding power capacity in support of a projected energy growth, need to interconnect regional grids, need to build an intelligent grid, minimising transmission and distribution losses, poorly planned distribution networks, overloading of system components, lack of reactive power support, power theft and inadequate grid infrastructure.

What are your key programmes under the IEEE smart grid initiative?
IEEE-SA is leveraging its strong technical foundation to develop Smart Grid standards, share best practices, publish developments and provide related educational offerings to advance technology and facilitate successful smart grid deployments throughout the world.

How do these help organisations with their R&D activities?
They help them adopt accelerated smart grid technologies, minimise technology obsolescence risks and access the capital required for this transition at reasonable cost.

If everything goes well, what time frame do you see for effective deployment of smart grid in India?
In my opinion, it will take India at least five years to realise the full impact of smart grid when a utility control room operator can regulate an electric meter in your home. Again, it will depend on the cooperation among the various stakeholders (regulators, utilities, vendors, customers, etc). Everybody has to work together and move at the same speed.

The technology can help us reduce the electricity transmission and distribution losses to 5-10 per cent annually. But there is much more involved in adopting the smart grid; for instance, in cities like Mumbai, there is a serious problem of theft of electric power, which needs to be addressed. Regulatory controls are needed. Without smart grid, India will not be able to keep pace with the growing needs of its cornerstone industries and will fail to create an environment for growth of its highly technological and telecommunications sectors.


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