IBM to study cost benefits for Indian smart grids

by Jamsheed Gandhi    May 18, 2011

By CXO Today staff

IBM is collaborating with India’s Bureau of Energy Efficiency to create a cost benefit analysis of setting up smart grids in the country.

Smart grids are digital electricity distribution networks with sensors to understand power supply and consumption patterns to distribute electricity in a cost effective manner to consumers.

While IBM claims that it’s collaboration with BEE as part of the National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency (NMEEE) is the first in the country, but many power utilities are deploying proof of concepts and pilots for smart grids.

Bangalore Electricity Supply Co and Mangalore Electricity Supply Co have already begun pilots for smart grids. In Mangalore, the coastal city of Karnataka, a proof of concept study covering 100 consumers found people willing to pay a premium to the utility if it provides uninterrupted electricity.

The study involved load curtailment and offering consumers limited power during a set time, instead of load shedding. Consumers were ready to pay premium for continuous supply of power as against the cost of diesel in a generator set.

“Consumers come back with questions like can I use more (electricity)? If it avoids load shedding, what is the additional costs?,” said Dr Rahul Tongia, Principal Research Scientist at the Centre for Study of Science, Technology and Policy, a Bangalore think-tank. CSTEP, which has worked with the government on building awareness on smart grids, is involved in the IBM project.

IBM said it will lay out a strategic assessment framework with an Indian perspective that looks at the adoption of new smart grid technologies, and identifies alignments in policy and regulatory frameworks to make each solution possible

“With the growth of the economy and the enhanced demand for energy, efficient use of energy resources and their conservation takes center stage—this is vital in restricting wasteful consumption while sustaining development,” said Kapil Mohan, IAS, Deputy Director General of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency in a IBM statement.

As a part of this collaboration, IBM will generate the smart grid business case and tools that will help calculate the return on investment for all smart grid projects being rolled out country-wide and also within the ISGAN (International Smart Grid Action Network), of which BEE is a member.

“There is a huge demand for power grids that are energy efficient, intelligent and secure,” said Avinash V Joshi, Director, Communications Sector, IBM India/South Asia. “The anticipated growth of the Indian power sector is substantial and this project will advance smart grid adoption across the country.”

India has set up the India Smart Grid Task Force, an inter- ministerial group and will serve as government focal point for activities related to smart grid.

“India in some ways is behind (in smart grid adoption). But the RAPDRP is doing the background work in terms of asset identification through GIS among others,” said Togia of CSTEP.

R-APDRP or Re-structured Accelerated Power Development and Reform Programme is a government initiative reduce technical and commercial losses for power utilities and make them self-sufficient.