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Smart, intelligent, distributed solutions reinvent the power grid

July 31, 2023 1:53 pm

Smart, intelligent, distributed solutions reinvent the power grid
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This article examines how India’s energy environment has evolved over the last decade, with the country emerging as a worldwide leader in sustainable solutions driven by digitalisation and new technology, alleviating the power sector’s prominence.

In the last decade, India has undergone a remarkable metamorphosis in its energy landscape, transforming itself from a mere spectator to a global leader in pursuing sustainable energy solutions. This transition, once seen as the domain of developed nations, is also a reality in India. As the world grapples with the challenges of energy production and adopts novel technologies, India has risen to the occasion by embracing innovative solutions such as electric vehicles and heat pumps. The rapid digitisation of the energy sector has fundamentally reshaped how power is generated, distributed, and consumed, heralding a new era of possibilities. 

Overcoming distribution grid challenges through intelligent solutions

One of the most critical challenges in this energy transition lies in the distribution grid, which has historically needed more visibility and control. Considering this, Vikram Gandotra, Head for Utility Sales & Strategy at Siemens Ltd., explains, “With the increasing prevalence of distributed energy resources, like rooftop solar installations, the need for better management of the distribution grid becomes evident.” Fortunately, the convergence of information technology and operational technology, combined with cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence, data analytics, and the Internet of Things, progressively alleviates these challenges. “As India sets its sights on large-scale renewable projects, efficient grid planning takes centre stage. Energy managers are now prioritising compliance, resilience, and efficiency, recognising that traditional investments in hardware alone cannot cope with the complexity and variability of future energy demands”, Vikram adds.

Intelligent tools to stabilise the power grid for the future

Instead, the focus is shifting towards intelligent software and IT-OT systems that serve as the backbone of grid flexibility and adaptability, facilitating the integration of millions of connected devices. An emerging concept gaining traction is virtual power plants, which efficiently convert distributed generation into dispatchable power, systematically managing fluctuating energy supply and demand.

Securing grid infrastructure through digital technologies

Nonetheless, the increasing reliance on digital technologies has brought to the forefront a concerning reality – the rise of cyber threats. Since electrical systems are deemed critical infrastructure, safeguarding them from cyberattacks has become a top priority for energy providers worldwide.

The future holds a significant increase in distributed energy resources, electric vehicles, and electrification across various sectors, making it imperative to develop automated and adaptive methods for stabilising the grid. Cutting-edge solutions such as digital twin technology, meter data management, microgrid controllers, and EV charging management systems are pivotal in creating a smarter and more resilient energy grid. These innovations pave the way for an electricity-dominated energy landscape and demand intelligent solutions to ensure stability and sustainability.

India’s energy transition has created a dynamic and uncertain energy landscape. Collaborative efforts between utilities, consultants, and technology providers become indispensable to navigate the challenges posed by increased demand, varying generation mixes, and evolving business models. India continues to forge ahead as a trailblazer in the quest for a greener future. As we embark on this transformative journey, harnessing the power of digitalisation and bolstering cybersecurity will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in shaping the energy sector and ensuring a sustainable tomorrow. Embracing the digital revolution is not an option; it is the key to unlocking the potential of a brighter, cleaner energy future.

(This article includes excerpts from EPR’s Power Talk on “Efficient Energy Infrastructure: Grid Integration Strategies for T&D Systems” presented by Mr. Vikram Gandotra, Head of Utility Sales & Strategy at Siemens Ltd.) 

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