Industry Analysis

ePowering the Future Cities

An analysis on how smart meters can help cities to become smart

A smart meter is an electronic measurement device installed by the utility to maintain a two-way communication between the consumer and the utility and also manage the electrical system of the consumer. “A smart meter is capable of communicating the real time energy-consumption of an electrical system in very short intervals of time to the connected utility,” explains Dileep AK, AGM – Sales & BD, Elmeasure.

The government plans to spend over Rs3 lakh crore to recast 100 cities, improving the existing infrastructure, which will translate in increased demand for electrical equipment in India. During 2016-2020, the overall market for electricity meters is expected to grow at a CAGR of 11.5 per cent, with prepayment of smart meters expected to grow more than the overall growth rate, at a CAGR of 5.3 per cent. However, Gautam Seth, Joint MD, HPL Electric & Power Ltd observes, “The market for meters is expected to witness explosive growth subsequent to 2022, when the proposed civil works for smart cities and smart grids will near completion, paving way for a robust demand for smart meters.”
Reliable 24/7 and affordable energy supply is the life line of a smart city. According to Babu Babel, Joint Managing Director, Secure Meters Ltd, “Smart meters will help monitor and manage the energy consumption effectively and engage the end user. Effective billing and collection will be helped. It will improve relationship between the smart utilities and smart citizens.”

One of the goals of smart cities is to make the usage information flow regularly, flawlessly, and without manual intervention to central governing and planning bodies. Explaining the utilisation of smart meters in the context of smart city Dhananjay Kulkarni, COO, Maven Systems Pvt Ltd said, “Information about electricity usage collected every hour is crucial for demand planning. With hourly data collected over the year, it becomes possible to forecast the daily and hourly demand based on season (summer / winter), festivals (like Diwali and Christmas), time of day and a combination of these. Smart metering infrastructure which allows reading of several thousand meters every hour is crucial for this to happen.”

S. C. Bhargava, Senior Vice President, L&T Electrical & Automation avers that energy efficiency, energy conservation and renewable energy integration are some of the cornerstones of smart cities. He adds, “Smart meters, with their features of Interval Data, two-way remote communication, import/export energy registers and Demand Response Messaging through in-home display, aid meeting this objective.”

The granularity of data that can be collected from the meter enables the utility to redistribute the loads based on proper load studies thus reducing the chances of breakdown. Real-time pricing helps in peak-load saving (i.e. flattening of demand curve) thus avoids the need for addition of capacity only to take care of peak loads. The power fail alerts allows the utility to take immediate corrective action to correct power outages. At the same time, tamper alerts sent by the meters can be used by the utility to take decisive and deterrent action against unscrupulous consumers.

Domain Experts
HPL Electric & Power Ltd
HPL Electric & Power Ltd is an established electric equipment manufacturing company in India manufacturing a diverse portfolio of electric equipment. “Our company was the market leader with a 20 per cent share in the market for meters in India in fiscal 2015,” said Gautam Seth.

HPL offers an extensive range of metering solutions with advance communication interfaces like LPRF (low power radio frequency), GSM/GPRS, IrDA, Modbus, and Ethernet. The company’s research and development efforts include design and development of all types of energy metering solutions including interactive communication between metering devices and metering infrastructure that includes AMR and AMI, smart meters with two-way communication and complete range DLMS compliant meters.

L&T Electrical & Automation
The Metering & Protection Systems business unit of L&T Electrical & Automation has been manufacturing electronic energy meters with communication facilities for the last 20 years. Meters with remote communication through Low Power Radio have been deployed at several locations all over India. The company has executed some of the largest AMR projects in India and some of these projects are operating successfully for periods greater than 2 years. “We have also launched our Smart Meters with two-way communication and connect/disconnect facility and supplies will start shortly,” informs Bhargava.

Smart city projects are still at a nascent stage with most of them being only at the tendering phase. L&T Electrical & Automation is bidding for these projects either on its own or through other system integrators.

Secure Meters
Secure Meters introduced world’s first smart meter way back in 1988, claims Babu Babel. “Secure has expertise in producing cost effective and relevant smart solutions and has been in this space for last three decades.” It has the total system’s capability and also has first-hand experience of running a “smart utility” business in the UK. “With exposure to utilities nearly 50 countries around the world Secure can address specific issues faced by the utilities and end users of energy,” assures the company’s Joint Managing Director.

Genus Power Infrastructures
Talking on the company’s expertise in smart meter domain, Jitendra K Agarwal, Joint Managing Director, Genus Power Infrastructures Ltd said, “We were long ready with our offerings in the smart metering domain. We have single-, three-phase and CT smart meters in our product portfolio.”

Meters offered by Genus have in-built communication modems using PLC, RF and GSM/GPRS technology. These meters also have inbuilt latching relays for remote connect-disconnect. Genus also has its own Head End System (HES) to collect and manage meter data. “We have smart group metering systems which are ideal for high-rise buildings and cluster of houses in smart city,” informs Agarwal.

Genus has supplied smart meters to several renowned private utilities and participated in a few smart grid pilot projects in India such as HPSEB (Himachal) Smart Grid project with Alstom, Smart Grid Village in Gujarat, and Smart meter pilot in Manesar. These smart grid projects will ultimately be part or model for the smart utility in any smart city.

Genus is also working with some smart city planners, project implementers and system integrators on developing smart utility concepts for smart cities.

Maven Systems
Maven specialises in end-to-end implementation of large smart metering infrastructure consisting of meters, gateways, cloud application and integration with utility billing software. “With more than 25,000 meters deployed in the field since 2013, Maven has one of the best reading success ratios – well over 97 per cent,” claims Kulkarni. Maven’s wireless modules (RF and ZigBee) are meter agnostic and are already integrated with more than 20 brands and models of electricity and water meters.

Maven is already participating in various smart city pilots and deployments including those in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Andhra Pradesh. Maven technologies and platforms are used to monitor over 25,000 meters and control over 15,000 street lights since 2013. The same infrastructure is now being extended to solar panels, wind farms, water meters, gas meters, garbage bins and trucks, traffic signals and so on.

Elmeasure is one of the pioneers in India who developed and introduced smart wireless meters to the market. The company has a large basket of products in this segment. “Our smart wireless street light management system helps infrastructures to connect the street lights and to reduce the energy consumption on a wide scale in a huge country like India, as it can remotely be monitored and controlled depending on road usage,” said Dileep.

Elmeasure has already initiated discussions with few organisations on the opportunities in the smart city segment.

Smart cities initiative envisages having a smart utility in place of traditional utility or discom. A smart utility will have the ability to control, intervene and optimise the electricity consumption of the city by being able to record the real-time data pertaining to different residential, commercial and industrial spaces and keeping a close watch on it. The smart utility therefore has to be equipped with smart grids which facilitate this collection and transferring of electricity related data throughout the city, free from all hassles without manual intervention. Smart grid obviously achieves this function by using smart meters. According to Jitendra K Agarwal of Genus Power Infrastructures Ltd, “An individual living in a smart city essentially would have excellent control over his/her electricity consumption and ultimately would be able to optimise the expenses incurred on the electricity bills. This not only would help curb the unbridled electricity consumption but also ease the enormous pressure on the sources of electricity. Thus the smart meter is an irreplaceable component for realising smart city dream.”

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