September 2022

Water availability defines the economic growth of a nation. The SDG 6 goal promulgated by the United Nations calls for ensuring access to water and sanitation for all by 2030. In line with this, the central and state governments are working towards providing clean drinking water facilities to all households in India through dedicated schemes.

Amidst all the new opportunities and trends, there remain some challenges. Many cities are still under constant threat of depleting water resources and water pollution. With the increasing population, the pressure on the system is increasing. To better manage the existing water distribution network and meet the ever-increasing demand, many ULBs, along with private companies, are deploying technologies such as the IoT, SCADA and AI. Further, asset management is becoming necessary for the water industry. Smart solutions are now being adopted by companies to help improve the productivity of systems and processes. IoT-based water management systems are using real-time data from sensors and helping in the automation of different processes, thus reducing water wastage and losses. There is huge market potential for digital solutions in the urban drinking water, wastewater and rural water space. The key focus areas are smart metering, network monitoring, NRW reduction and leakage detection. The outlook for the sector is positive, with a plethora of opportunities for various stakeholders, especially technology players.

Meanwhile, the gas and pipeline industries are confronted with a number of obstacles. Incomplete pipeline models and lack of integrity are some of the major obstacles, indicating insufficient documentation and unconnected gas networks. With digitalisation, project information can be automatically transferred in real time to the appropriate database immediately after acquiring right of way. Key decision-makers can access and analyse the data to gain actionable insights in real time, permitting them to make choices promptly and execute preventive steps against asset failure. GIS, smart meters and data are invaluable tools in city gas distribution business processes, from network planning and engineering to operations and management. The deployment of GIS, in particular, has played a significant role in improving the efficiency of operations. It has added value to businesses by facilitating integration with other systems.

In the power distribution segment, as per the latest Report on Power Utilities 2020-21 released by PFC in September 2022, AT&C losses for distribution utilities rose from 20.73 per cent in 2019-20 to 22.32 per cent in 2020-21.  The cash adjusted gap increased from Re 0.83 per kWh in 2019-20 to Re 0.95 per kWh in 2020-21. In order to improve operational and financial performance, distribution utilities are revamping their metering infrastructure in a big way. As of September 2022, 5 billion smart meters have been installed across the country. The pace of smart meter installation is expected to gain further momentum on the back of the Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme, which envisages the deployment of 250 million smart prepaid meters for all domestic consumers by March 2025. The deployment of smart meters and a shift to a digital paradigm will be closely watched in the coming months.

This issue of Smart Utilities discusses asset health management technology initiatives and highlights the IoT solutions for real-time monitoring of water systems. It also gives a snapshot of the initiatives being taken by various ULBs for state-of-the-art water supply and management. In addition to this, the issue provides a glimpse into the digital and sustainable solutions for the gas and power sectors for network and asset management.