Switching to smart power

by Sohini Bagchi    Aug 03, 2012

smart gridThe massive power failure that occurred in the northern and eastern regions of India early this week hampered business productivity. While some enterprises did put up a brave face, others suffered their doomsday. However, that is not the end of the story. Underlying this crisis, as experts pointed out is India’s need to build and manage power more effectively to avoid such outages in the future. The blackout in turn has opened up newer avenues for enterprises to leverage the next-generation energy technologies like smart grid.

In a step to scale up the electricity grid, the Indian government recently announced its plans to deploy smart grid devices across the power transmission network of the country. The proposed plan may require an investment of Rs. 239 Crore. The government said by 2014, incorporation of smart grid devices will put India’s electricity grid on par with China’s wide area monitoring systems placed across its six grids. A recent release said that implementation of large scale smart grid will provide uninterrupted electricity to consumers across India even in remote locations, while eliminating wastage of power units.

“When asked about energy costs, most enterprises do not have a clear roadmap. Smart grid as a technology can be an opportunity for businesses to further drive down energy costs,” said Indranil Mukherjee, IT Head at Nicco Corporation. He also believes that with the potential of the Smart Grid, may also come some risks that needs to be handled carefully. “It is important to educate the entire IT team on the changes to legislation and technology developments so that businesses can make the most of the Smart Grid,” he said.

Kaushik Nath VP, Systems Engineering, India & SAARC at Cisco Systems believes that, the Smart Grid is a necessity as it provides accurate, timely and detailed information on the energy being used. It will allow utilities and consumers to reduce peak demand and help in the efficient use of energy. He pointed out that Cisco has been updating its smart grid portfolio for utilities in order to modernise the electric grid.

“The blackout had impacted India’s image to the global economy in a negative way. That’s because companies in India run IT operations not only for domestic clients, but also handle back offices for plenty of international organisations,” said Som Mittal, President – Nasscom. He added that the government should use predictive technologies in power grids to prevent such outages in the future.

Nath agreed that there should be an initiative to upgrade the grid monitoring systems, owing to the increasing complexities involved in monitoring and control of a large integrated grid in India. Going by the present scenario, which is not too healthy in terms of smart grid deployment, massive deployment on a real-time basis may take a while, he said.

Meanwhile a senior government official ensured that China has installed more than 1,000 PMUs in its grid by end of 2012. In India, north, east and west are integrally connected through transmission links. Soon the southern region will be integrated with the new grid system to form one of the largest synchronous interconnections in the world. Mittal believes that unless grid operations are prioritised, it will become difficult for the country to keep pace with its industrial and IT growth.