Advanced smart grid technologies are key for India grid modernization

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By 2040, India will be responsible for 25% of the increase in global energy demand. To meet this hunger for energy, the country is focusing strongly on renewable energy generation and modernizing power grids.  Gridspertise is ready to partner with India Distribution Companies (DISCOMs) in building future-proof smart grids by offering cutting-edge solutions to strengthen revenue protection, improve power quality, make predictive maintenance more efficient, and streamline field operations for a safe and fast response.

Ushering in the grids of the future

Ensuring all citizens access to electricity with a connection to the grid and creating local mini grids in rural areas: these have been Indian government electrification priorities in latest years. The results have been exceptional: while historically a substantial proportion of India’s population lacked access to electricity, already in 2019 more than 99.9% of homes in rural areas all over the country had been electrified.  Currently, India is the third-largest producer and consumer of electricity worldwide, with an installed power capacity of 404.13 GW as of July 31, 2022.

To face this evolving context, numerous projects have been launched at a local and national level to develop the grids, with greater openness to privatization and taking advantage of technological innovation. One of the first goals of this strategy is to replace residential and industrial customers’ traditional meters with smart meters, a crucial component for creating digitalized, efficient, and flexible grids. The National Smart Metering Program’s goal aims to replace 250 million conventional meters with smart meters. And the results are beginning to come: according to the agency’s statistics, as of September 30 2022, India had passed the 5 million smart meter milestone.

Besides dealing with an increasing electricity demand, Indian power grids are facing other technological challenges. In the past few years, India’s energy generation portfolio has seen a spectacular increase in solar energy. As of July 31, 2022, India’s installed renewable energy capacity (including hydro) stood at 161.29 GW, representing 39.91% of the overall installed power capacity. Solar energy is estimated to contribute for 57.97 GW. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), by 2030 variable renewable sources will provide about 25% of India’s total electricity generation, and this will require advanced technologies and resilient power grids.

In addition, current Indian power grid infrastructure is dealing with high Aggregate Technical and Commercial (AT&C) losses, drastically cutting utilities finances, and limiting their ability to invest in critical infrastructure.  As the growth of renewables is also linked to the health of Distribution Companies, the reduction of DISCOMs’ technical and commercial losses through appropriate billing and improving collection efficiency will be critical.

A challenge to take up

Given its rapidly developing energy market and national policies oriented towards grid digitalization, India is an ideal entry point for businesses offering advanced technologies in the smart grid sector, such as Gridspertise, the company founded by the Enel Group in 2021 to offer cutting-edge solutions in the field of electricity grid digitalization to all DISCOMs.

Gridspertise leverages Enel Groups’ legacy in operating distribution networks and extended experience in the installation of smart meters around the world, boasting substantial experience regarding smart grids. Building on this heritage, Gridspertise today is headquartered in Italy, with local offices in Spain, Brasil, the US and India, and delivers its technologies based on a significant intellectual property portfolio of field-proven solutions to dozens of Distribution Companies (DISCOMs) of different sizes and in different geographies.

Revenue Protection

Gridspertise offers innovative Meter-as-a-service solutions to partner with DISCOMs in India by a highly evolved Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) system, using an ecosystem of networked meters, communication networks, data collection and management systems. AMI application uses consumer data to provide cost-saving opportunities for the utility. The solution reduces non-technical losses by recognizing consumption patterns, event sequences, and energy diversion. Meter Data Management System (MDMS) provides billing ready data, for every read, from every meter, every day. This ensures accurate billing on and off cycle each-and-every day.

Gridspertise’s portfolio of interoperable smart metering devices integrates the most advanced technologies available today and they are packed with multiple functionalities: bidirectional communication, management of personalized tariffs, safety measures in case of power surges and fraud oversight.

In detail, Gridspertise’s smart meters enable DISCOMs to use higher-performance and more resilient metering and control systems, optimizing remote operations and providing highly granular metering data; and Energy Balance functionality, which allows the DISCOMs to assess grid losses, including fraud cases and direct connections to the grid. Among other functions, the Gridspertise’s smart meters can detect various fraud attempts and report them to the central system; enable energy metering based on increasingly complex and customized tariff structures, enable advanced energy and ancillary services, such as those related to distributed generation, electric mobility, and flexibility; and finally enable pre-payment management, or energy supply based on a pre-payment approach, where the energy supplied reduces the energy credits available to the customer.

Power Reliability Improvement

Power reliability is nothing but essential for both rising and mature economies. To support DISCOMs facing this new challenge Gridspertise is promoting its QEd -Quantum Edge® device, a revolutionary solution; thanks to its high Edge computing capability and its multi-purposes applications, it’s now possible virtualizing several physical devices (like RTUs, Protection relays, Modem, Router, PMU) in a single platform and taking the most from all the data gathered at substation level. Moreover, leveraging on real-time sampling of electrical parameters and advanced communication capabilities, QEd can be equipped with our Grid Advance Management application (GAM), helping DISCOMs to execute several self-healing schemes while avoiding modifying their own Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems. This Edge-based approach is crucial for a sustainable smart grids deployment, especially in rising economy countries where rural areas supplying and legacy central systems might likely be the weak spots to face the main challenges of the next few years. 

Efficiency on Operation Maintenance

To ensure the reliability of the grid, it is indispensable to localize any element that could interfere with the infrastructure as well as understand the health status of the grid asset. In particular, the presence of vegetation can cause problems, above all in rural areas traversed by the grid like forests or open green spaces. Useful in such scenarios is the Digital Asset and Vegetation Intelligence, based on a Network Digital Twin® which creates a virtual replica of the electricity grid and the surrounding environment, by acquiring and processing structured datasets provided by laser scanner, photography, videos etc. It enables the identification of critical distances and interferences, facilitating vegetation inspection and predictive maintenance. In fact, maintenance typically done through manual activities can be streamlined using AI to automatically detect anomalies and prioritize actions.

Gridspertise at Distribution Utility Meet 2022

To strengthen its introduction in the Indian market, Gridspertise was Thematic sponsor at Distribution Utility Week 2022, which was hosted in Bhubaneswar, Odisha on 17-18 November and organized by the industry association India Smart Grid Forum. Our local representative Rahul Chandra, Gridspertise VP Business Development India, on this occasion participated in the discussion on AMI rollout plans and challenges for DISCOMs.

The participation in this event followed the attendance as Silver Partner of the Indian Utility Week held in New Delhi from 12 to 14 October 2022, and the participation in the India Smart Utility Week last February, where Gridspertise had the opportunity to showcase some of its leading solutions.

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