Analysis on requirement of achieving smart power in a smart city
Continuous power supply is a major element in the smart city development. For a continuous supply of power in the smart city it is very essential to have strong and smart transmission and distribution (T&D) systems but today’s T&D systems seems to be inadequate to meet the increasing power demand therefore leaving a question on T&D’s ability to supply adequate power to the upcoming smart cities. Supplying power to the smart cities will be a challenging task and how the masters of the power sector are going to address these challenges will be a thing to watch. On this note, the article will discuss about the requirements of achieving smart power in a smart city. It will also inform about ways to address the T&D challenges.
Requirement of smart power in a smart city
The objective of a smart city is to use digital communication and technology to optimise the usage of resources such as energy, water, and roads and infrastructure and improve governance, transportation, health care and waste management. “From energy perspective, a smart city will be able to optimise the electricity consumption of the city by being able to record the real-time data pertaining to different residential, commercial and industrial spaces. A smart city is equipped with smart grids which facilitate this collection and transferring of electricity related data throughout the city, free from all hassles and wouldn’t even require manual labour,” informs Harish Agarwal, CEO, Supreme & Co. Pvt. Ltd.
“So, an individual living in a smart city essentially would have excellent control over his or her electricity consumption and ultimately would be able to optimise the expenses incurred on the electricity bills. This not only would help curtail the uncontrolled electricity consumption but also ease the enormous pressure on the sources of electricity,” adds Agarwal.
As mentioned in the policy document from Government of India, promote cities that provide core infrastructure and give a decent quality of life to its citizens, a clean and sustainable environment and application of smart solutions. The focus is on sustainable and inclusive development.
“A smart city is more or less an urban vision that includes many modern needs such as integration of multiple platforms of products and services with communication technologies and Internet of Things to manage the township in general. The prerequisite to all of this is power as all of this equipment can function only when power supply is efficient,” states Rajesh Nandwani, VP & Business Unit Head-Switchgear, Anchor Electricals.
He adds, “While smart power on one hand includes usage of renewable energy to produce electricity, smart management of that power is equally essential.” Multiple dimensions can be looked into for example, power storage is one area, and power carrying accessories is another. It is hence imperative that the electrical accessories become more energy-efficient and user-friendly as the technology takes new strides.”
Sharing his views on the requirements of achieving smart power in smart city Neil Savant, Managing Director, IntuitThings says, “To achieve smart power infrastructure level changes are needed to be done to be able to remotely control as well as monitor the power consumption. This is where the discussion moves toward Internet of Things solutions. Smart home is the first step towards the infrastructure changes. Then data that is generated from each home has to be used effectively and intelligently for predictive control of power which can help save the excessive and wasteful power consumption on a city level as well as giving huge monetary saving.”
Smart cities are aimed at providing a better standard of living via improved and automated mechanisms by embedding latest technologies which entail incessant supply of power. “The core of smart cities is based on the availability of reliable, affordable and consistent supply of electricity which mandates augmented generation coupled with the development of a robust transmission and distribution infrastructure, a critical success factor in achieving smart power,” states Vimal Kejriwal, MD & CEO, KEC International Ltd.
Challenges with existing power distribution network
India faces huge power crisis due to poor power distribution network. Let us understand what the challenges that disturbs the power distribution network.
While India is making a steady headway on the transmission front and the sector has witnessed commendable growth over the last few years with substantial capacity additions, evacuation of power is still a concern in India.
Kejriwal believes that India’s T&D network is poor in meeting the power demands and is plaguing the sector for years. He says, “The existing T&D network is inadequate to meet the increasing demand and load patterns. In addition, T&D losses are plaguing the sector since a long time. These losses inherent to T&D systems include losses incurred while transmitting power from sources of supply to points of distribution and ultimately to final consumers; commercial losses also being accounted for in this.” In India, T&D losses account for as high as 23 per cent of the total electricity generated as compared to countries like Singapore, Malaysia and other developed countries wherein the losses are as low as ranging from 5-8 per cent. “These losses can be reduced by strengthening and upgrading the T&D infrastructure combined with proper tracking and auditing which would definitely ensure reduced loss levels,” opines Kejriwal.
Pointing out on the challenges with existing power distribution network Agarwal says, “With existing power distribution network, there is a lot of power that is not being used, which can be used by those regions which have a shortage of power supply. On the other hand, there may be a system failure in another power distribution network, when the actual power consumption is consistently around the total capacity provided to that region, and sometimes even crosses the maximum capacity.”
Existing power distribution network used either an electromechanical meter (with a rotating disk to record the electricity consumption) or an electronic meter (with digital figures) at our houses, offices or any other property to measure our electricity usage. Typically, at the end of the month (or months) a representative of the utility comes to the property, observes the reading in the meter and subsequently we get the bill for the units of electricity we have used in that period of time.
“As far as the customers are concerned, there does not seem to be any problem with this mechanism. But still, since manual labour is involved, there are bound to be some errors and irregularities. In order to minimise the chances and number of mistakes and maximise the efficiency and performance of the whole system, smart meters step in the picture,” suggests Agarwal.
As per Savant current challenges include physically unsecured network, virtually unsecured network against internet hacks, over burdening the existing legacy network infrastructure to meet ever increasing demand, last mile coverage of the network to provide power to each household in rural India.
On the other hand Nandwani believes, the existing power distribution network has huge gaps in terms of power and infrastructure management. The main challenge involves power distribution, especially in peak hours. At the onset of summer itself, one sees power-cuts. While lack of proper infrastructure and scarcity of resources is one problem, other involves conserving energy overall. The government’s initiatives such as promoting LED, impetus and importance given to optimise renewable energy will definitely progress the situation soon. This will ensure that maximum parts of the country get access to grid electricity as well.
How to address these challenges
Every problem has its solution. In order to have smart T&D network it is necessary to solve issues relevant to it. On this note, experts have suggested on how these issue will be addressed.
Agarwal believes that smart grids present an elegant solution to this problem. Since the whole process of power transmission and data collection is automated, when a smart grid observes that there is a skewness in the electricity consumption of the two regions, it automatically re-distributes the power according to the usage of the regions, thereby removing any imbalance in the electricity distribution and consumption and saving a lot of energy, by minimising the scope of wastage.
Interconnection planning and analysis activities create greater certainty with respect to future generation, including identifying transmission requirements under a broad range of alternative electricity futures (e.g., intensive application of demand-side technologies) and developing long-term interconnection-wide transmission expansion plans.
“Smart grids have the demand response capacity to strike a balance between power consumption and supply. Besides this, smart grids can integrate new energy sources like solar and wind with traditional sources. This will enable the citizens of smart cities to eventually integrate their solar or wind systems with the grid and start feeding unused power into the grid,” adds Agarwal.
Smart meters facilitate real-time pricing, automated recording of the electricity consumption and a complete abolition of errors due to manual readings and reduce labour cost and enable instant fault detection.
Kejriwal observes that the government is taking efforts and doing a lot of investments as well. He says that the good part is that, a lot of progress is unfolding as dedicated efforts are being undertaken by the Indian government for improving the transmission network in India. PGCIL which mainly owns and operates inter-state lines has already made huge investments for the development of inter-state networks and is managing these lines efficiently. On the other hand, the development of intra-state lines is under progress with huge CAPEX planned by many of the SEBs. The sector is also witnessing enhanced private participation. Further, in order to strengthen and upgrade the transmission network numerous schemes have been devised like Integrated Power Distribution Scheme for rural and semi-urban areas and Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana for feeder separation for agricultural populace. A series of conducive policies and measures are rolled out as well as efforts are on towards achieving the mission of ‘One Nation, One Grid, One Price’.
“Significant improvements are also transpiring on project execution front resulting into lowering of the execution timelines for T&D projects from the traditional 36 months to 12-18 months, which is a remarkable achievement. Some our recent projects have a stipulated condition of project completion in a time span of 12 months,” Kejriwal.
Albeit, on the ground level some issues still prevail, like the pace of execution of some T&D projects has been impacted due to various factors such as ROW issues, end users (like power plants) not being ready etc, which leads to delay in project completion schedules. This creates an additional burden on the contractors by way of time and cost overruns, mobilisation issues etc. There has to be a mechanism in place which will resolve these ground level issues. The Indian government is conscious of this fact and there have been changes in the approval processes for environmental clearances whereby the first stage approvals have been eased. Also compensation levels have been enhanced for land cost which has provided some relief to the land acquisition issue. However, more thrust is required in this area. Some suggestions would be awarding projects by way of plug and play mode where all the approvals are secured before the project is awarded, adopting alternate and improved technologies like Gas Insulated Lines etc.
In conclusion, though the sector has gained significant momentum, for fast tracking the pace of its development, it is imperative that more steps are taken for speedy resolution of the issues.
Advising on how to solve the T&D issue Savant says, “To address these issues we need to start first from the last mile coverage in rural India. Creating and providing clean and sustainable energy is the need of the hour. Once we produce clean energy wastage needs to be reduced considerably with the help of automation. That is where things get into smart power control and regulation. Also, it is very important to be able to measure and monitor the power distribution network parameters to be able to take prognostic decisions before or while something’s goes wrong. This data needs to be stored for mining for future predictive behaviour and planning.”
According to Nandwani the smart way to address these challenges is to make use smart switchgears. He says, “As the saying of ‘A penny saved is a penny earned’ applies in this domain too. Using energy-efficient appliances and electrical accessories will pave a way towards conserving power. Switchgear can be used to control heavy appliances effectively ensuring their security of operations. Smart switchgear and control gear is the next leg to the current switchgear industry where switchgear functions would be more intuitive as well.”
Panasonic is known for manufacturing most advanced switchgear range. In 2012, Anchor has introduced some switchgear products under Panasonic brand such as MCBs, RCCBs, isolators and now also distribution boards. Panasonic MCB boasts three level indication feature, on-off and trip making it easier to identify circuit fault. Anchor will be introducing a new range of products for the commercial premises soon.
KEC International Ltd is $ 1.4 billion Infrastructure EPC company and major in power transmission space. The company has been powering significant infrastructure development across India and has played a vital role in the development of critical evacuation infrastructure including HVDC transmission line projects of up to 1,200 kV. Its strong project management capabilities, robust engineering and design credentials, exceptional manufacturing expertise and outstanding testing prowess reap in benefits like accelerated project deliveries leading to expediting the socio-economic progress and development of the region in concern.
Some noteworthy projects, endorsing the company’s credentials in India include:
The company pioneered the use of covered conductor technology in India by executing a 66 kV covered conductor project in Bengaluru for Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation ltd.
The company completed the 400 kV transmission line for Indo-Bangladesh Cross Border Interconnection 5 months ahead of its scheduled completion time, in record 7 months, despite numerous challenges including logistics and severe monsoon conditions, it successfully completed the project.
The company is currently executing projects at numerous locations in Jammu & Kashmir amidst severe challenges like extreme weather conditions, high altitude and difficulties in logistic arrangements. It is successfully executing these projects as per the required timelines.
KEC International completed the 230 kV Hybrid GIS substation in Thiruverkadu, Chennai for TANTRANSCO in record 9 months, one month ahead of its schedule completion.
Another challenging project which was also one of the most outstanding projects executed by KEC was the Haldia River crossing project in West Bengal.
Power outages due to Transmission tower failures and DT failures can be resolved by Supreme & Co. Pvt. Ltd ERS (Emergency Restoration System) Towers and MSS (Mobile Substation). These solutions will help to reduce the down time and provide reliable power to the consumer effectively. It will also help the dynamic upgrading of power infrastructure with minimal downtime. Compact Transmission Line (CTL) solution is another area of expertise where it will help the smart cites to cope up with the need of excess power requirement using the same footprint transmitting power at higher voltage. Solutions being provided for CTL are pole type structures, insulated cross-arm, HTLS conductor and interphase spacer.
IntuitThings is a smart IOT solutions company that have domain expertise in monitoring, control and regulation of power. It is a end to end solutions company that is agile in the solutions that it offer. The company understand the requirements and design and implement solutions for smart monitoring and control of power. IntuitThings log data and study the pattern to make predictive analysis which helps in taking pre-emptive actions by programming a rule engine. It also create hardware that senses and control, create a cloud solution as well as user interface for being able to provide a solution for the smart power problem statements.
Gearing up for smart city projects
Industry players are in queue for working in smart city projects. Whereas some have already started working on it. Sharing his views on the contribution for smart city Nandwani says, “We are members of smart city council and looking actively at the smart city projects for some of our state-of-the-art range of products in the energy generation and smart lighting.”
Smart grid project implementation at Puducherry by installation of smart meters was the first step by Supreme & Co. Pvt. Ltd towards smart grid. It has also developed remote monitoring system which can feed data from various smart instruments installed in the T&D line at remote location to integrate with the central server and SCADA. The company has done extensive work on GIS and worked on GIS based indexing of electricity consumer and codified asset database on the electrical system network for smart city project Puducherry. “Renewable energy integration through rooftop solar and smart street lightning system is key area of focus for us. We are also doing research on introducing and implementing LVDC system both grid connected as well as off grid since most of the power equipment and storing devices run on DC voltage system,” informs Agarwal.
IntuitThings has started work with a progressive builder who is keen on a zero emission sustainable smart city where it is supporting in power monitoring of their model building for them to able to estimate and plan the sustainable and clean sources of power for their township. Next steps would be to have the homes installed with its smart home system to be able to monitor, control and hence regulate power under a desired limit remotely and automatically.
This will regulate power not just at apartment level but also at the society level and in turn at city level thereby putting less burden on the source as well as distribution network. This will also help in monitoring the source as well as destination power consumption thereby guesstimating if there is loss of power efficiency above a limit where corrective actions can be taken to improve the loss the efficiency. “When we are able to monitor the power generation as well as consumption and control it as well we get a total control of the power system and hence possibilities of large scale monitory as well as green house savings opens up and can help in slowing down the rapidly increasing climate changes that could have higher devastating effects on planet earth,” says Savant.
Smart cities clearly appear to be a good opportunity for KEC International’s civil, cabling, solar and power transmission and distribution businesses. It is keenly watching the developments in this space and as and when there is good opportunity the company will tap it.