Utilities across the world are focusing on digitalisation and automation through smart grid technologies to facilitate modernised distribution operations. In India, too, discoms have been working towards the roll-out of smart grid technologies in association with the Ministry of Power (MoP). The pilot smart grid projects launched in 2013 by the MoP have already been completed and the next set of smart grid projects are now under way as part of the National Smart Grid Mission (NSGM) launched by the government in 2015. Power Line presents an overview of the progress of smart grids under various government initiatives…
Impact of smart grid pilot projects
The MoP announced smart grid pilot projects to be implemented by various state-owned distribution utilities in 2013. In July 2019, all the 11 pilots that were announced were declared “go live”, completed or commercially operated. The pilot projects sanctioned by the MoP were taken up across Assam, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Karnataka, Punjab, Telangana, Tripura, Puducherry, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, at a total cost of Rs 2.9 billion (including Rs 1.3 billion government funding). All projects have been partially funded by the MoP, except the project developed by the Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam, which was completely funded by the New Energy and Industry Technology Development Organisation. The functionalities covered in these pilots included advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), outage management system, peak load management (PLM), power quality management, distributed generation, and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA).
An assessment of the impact of pilot projects implemented by nine discoms, the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur and the Smart Grid Knowledge Centre at Manesar (Haryana) shows that nearly 156,000 smart meters have been installed under these pilot projects. Also, the utilities have achieved a reduction in AT&C losses of close to their targeted levels. In addition, the integration of smart grid systems with the Restructured Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme modules has been achieved in pilot projects in Tripura, Assam and West Bengal. Further, consumer portals have been developed and shared with them as part of the pilot projects. PLM has been successfully tested; however, it was delayed due to regulatory constraints. Most of the pilot projects deployed radio frequency/ general packet radio system as the primary mode of communication.
The NSGM functions under the aegis of the MoP, planning and monitoring the implementation of policies and programmes related to smart grid activities in the country. At the state level, the NSGM focuses on the establishment of state-level project management units, capacity building and developing preparedness for effective implementation of a smart grid. Currently, there are five smart grid projects under implementation as part of the NSGM across four states/ union territories (see table). Altogether, these projects will cover 810,430 consumers, entailing an investment of Rs 6.8 billion, partially funded by a grant from the central government.
The next step after the successful completion of pilot projects is to scale them up by building innovative business models. New advancements in smart grid technologies, and business process redesigning and developments would need to be incorporated in new projects.