Project Update: Smart grid progress

Smart grid progress

Realising the growing importance of smart grid technologies in the power sector, the Ministry of Power (MoP) constituted the India Smart Grid Task Force (ISGTF) and the India Smart Grid Forum in 2010. The former is an interministerial group created under the MoP to provide policy direction to the smart grid initiatives in the country, while the latter was set up as a non-profit voluntary consortium of public and private stakeholders.

A major initiative taken based on the ISGTF’s recommendations for smart grid implementation has been the launch of pilot projects with financial support from the MoP. In October 2012, 14 smart grid pilot projects were shortlisted for implementation. Besides these pilots, a smart city pilot project was approved and is being implemented by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur, on its campus. Currently, only nine of the 14 shortlisted projects are at various stages of award or implementation, while the remaining have been cancelled or terminated.

In 2015, the long-awaited National Smart Grid Mission (NSGM) was launched with a view to coordinate all the smart grid development activities being undertaken in the country. The NSGM has a three-tier structure with a governing council headed by the power minister at the apex level, an empowered committee headed by the power secretary at the second level and the NSGM Technical Committee headed by the Central Electricity Authority’s chairperson in a supportive role. Currently, four projects have been approved for implementation under the NSGM. These are proposed to be implemented in Maharashtra (Congress Nagar and Amravati), Chandigarh and Kanpur.

Smart Utilities presents an update on the status of these projects…

Smart grid pilots

Eight of the 14 proposed smart grid pilots have been awarded and are at various stages of implementation. One project, being taken up by Uttar Gujarat Vij Company Limited, is expected to be awarded soon. The functionalities proposed to be tested under these projects include advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), peak load management (PLM), outage management system (OMS), power quality, distributed generation (DG), microgrids and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA).

Four, of the remaining five projects, have been cancelled. These were owned by Chhattisgarh State Power Distribution Company Limited, Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited, Jaipur Vidyut Vitran Nigam Limited and the Kerala State Electricity Board. One pilot project has recently been terminated by West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Limited. Meanwhile, under the smart city pilot being implemented on the IIT Kanpur campus, 20 houses have been identified for home automation. The total approved cost for the project is Rs 125 million, of which the central government’s contribution is Rs 62.5 million (Rs 46.9 million has already been released by the MoP). Details of the sanctioned costs and the progress of all pilots is in Table 1.

Projects under NSGM

The cumulative sanctioned cost for the four projects under the NSGM is Rs 5.7 billion. A total of 842,331 consumers are expected to be covered through these projects. Work on all the projects, except the one being implemented by the Kanpur Electricity Supply Company (KESCO), is in progress.

For the Chandigarh project, being implemented by the Chandigarh Electricity Department (CED), some of the functionalities proposed to be tested are AMI, monitoring of distribution transformers, substation automation, rooftop photovoltaic (PV) and IT infrastructure. Rural Electrification Corporation Power Distribution Company Limited has been appointed as the project management agency. The CED received the sanction letter in April 2016. It is proposing to take up the implementation of the smart grid across the entire city.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Corporation Limited (MSEDCL) is implementing the smart grid project in Amravati. The project has adopted AMI, OMS and demand response functionalities. MSEDCL received the sanction letter in April 2016 and tender documents are currently under preparation. Another project is also being implemented by MSEDCL at Congress Nagar. The project has adopted AMI, SCADA, OMS and DR functionalities. MSEDCL was issued the sanction letter in July 2016, and tender documents for the project are being prepared.

For the project being implemented by KESCO, the functionalities that are proposed to be adopted include AMI, PLM, DT monitoring and DG. KESCO was issued the sanction letter in November 2016. The project was approved by the Empowered Committee of the NSGM in October 2016.

Other smart grid projects

In addition to the smart grid projects under the NSGM, there are a number of other smart grid projects that are being taken up by both private and public utilities. For instance, the country’s largest transco, Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (Powergrid) is setting up a smart grid knowledge centre at Manesar in Haryana. The total approved cost for this project is Rs 98 million, which will be contributed wholly by the central government. The project has adopted AMI, OMS, microgrids/DG, electric vehicles with charging infrastructure, home energy management system and cybersecurity solutions with threat management and training infrastructure functionalities.  Some of the other smart grid projects that are under way are shown in Table 3.

Challenges and opportunities

At the pilot stage, smart grid implementation was challenged by a lack of preparedness in the industry. Utilities did not possess the required skills and readiness or set standards for smart meters and this led to confusion as utilities came out with varying sets of specifications. Limited support from IT implementing agencies further made integration with existing IT systems a complex process. Some projects faced high L1 costs with respect to their sanctioned costs.

At the current stage, smart grids face interoperability and integration issues. In addition, utilities need to change their meter specifications to conform to the regulations established by the NSGM, and undertake skill development of their staff to function effectively in the new framework. The success of the programme also depends on the effective engagement of utilities with consumers to facilitate efficient integration.

Despite these challenges, the future is bright as opportunities abound. The Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana has a mandate to install 35 million smart meters by December 2019. As 40,000 MW of rooftop PV capacity is targeted to be installed by 2022, smart grids will be the key to integrating and facilitating consumer engagement. Meanwhile, with electric vehicles expected to proliferate over time, investments are justified in charging infrastructure, which can also absorb the surplus energy in the grid as storage technology improves and becomes more cost efficient.