Interview

‘Smart meter’ solution to the power deficit

A retrofit solution which allows connectivity with existing meters yet collecting data automatically is very important to protect the existing investment in the meters.
Dhananjay Kulkarni, COO, Maven Systems
  Power supply surplus is great news for the country and its economy. It would serve well in growth of businesses as well as quality of life for the citizens. However, there are a few caveats. “The surplus is at aggregate level (country level). Individual states have surplus or deficits. The states with deficit need to buy power. They may or may not have sufficient budget to do so. And if they cannot, then businesses and people in such states will continue to suffer from the power deficit and associated power cuts,” remarks Dhananjay Kulkarni, COO, Maven Systems Pvt Ltd.
According to Kulkarni a long term solution for such states and others is to use more power efficient devices. For example, LED lights in place of conventional lights. This is especially important for street lights which are high wattage and numerous. Just change to LED lights result in up to 70 per cent saving on electricity usage. Another is to reduce the Transmission and Distribution (T&D) losses. These are anywhere from 22 to 35 per cent in India against international standard of 15 per cent or less. This includes theft, bad equipment and wiring, and waste due to manual error. For example, keeping the street lights ‘on’ during day time results in waste.
Mavens contributes smart street lights Maven contributes in this solution space by providing smart street lights (over 15,000 lights controlled since 2015) which are turned ON/OFF based on actually changing sunrise and sunset times at that latitude and longitude. This in itself saves up to 150 minutes of wasted electricity.The analytics reports compare long term utilisation trends according to season (summer/monsoon/ winter) with recent short term trends. This helps in identifying potential theft (sudden spike in usage), repair needs (steady degradation of power usage) and several other actionable items.
For this to work, street lighting is coupled with metering. In India most lights are controlled at feeder level which is more cost effective. However, that makes it difficult to control individual light dimming which has more savings opportunity.
Maven’s smart metering solution allows timely and frequent automatic data collection. Analytics on this data can be used to detect possible theft. Comparison between different switching points to identify faulty or inefficient equipment that needs to be changed. And of course timely billing.
India has over 20 crore electricity meters. A retrofit solution which allows connectivity with existing meters yet collecting data automatically is very important to protect the existing investment in the meters. Maven has special expertise in this area. In early 2016, Maven deployed infrastructure for retrofit meter reading of 5,000 meters in Maharashtra.
Turnaround storyMaven was started in 2009 with an express purpose of building products and solutions in M2M / IoT areas. To that end currently Maven has remote monitoring solutions for electric sub-stations monitoring, transformer monitoring, and other distribution side monitoring. Moreover, green energy generation using solar and wind energy can be monitored by collecting data from solar and wind farms. Here due to remote locations of most of the solar/wind farms, it is important to know about faults, health, and efficiency of the generation infrastructure.
“Maven’s remote monitoring solution measures actual electricity generated and fed to the grid. It also measures various windmill parameters to track efficiency and faults. Timely preventive maintenance alerts reduce breakdowns and revenue loss,” informs Kulkarni.
Maven has indigenous technology for RF, ZigBee, GSM gateways, and cloud software. This allows for quick and easy customisation as needed by individual utility company in India. It also allows for quick integration with existing billing software of the utility companies. Till date Maven has integrated its solution with tens of makes and models of electricity meters, water meters, LED lights, mining and construction equipment, windmills and so on.
“With the renewed focus on becoming power surplus in each individual state, Maven’s solutions to reduce waste, theft, and inefficiencies would contribute a great deal in achieving that solution and become more profitable in the coming years,” informs Kulkarni.

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