Smart Metering Technology in India: Need and Scope
With the eagerness of the government to bring in reforms to the power sector, easily availability of resources, renewed thrust on ‘aatmanirbhar’ manufacturing, and urgency to revive ailing DISCOMS, makes the switch to advanced smart metering infrastructure more viable today and is absolutely the need of the hour. Smart metering is the quickly becoming the new norm in the power and utility industry.
The electricity demand in the country is expected to grow rapidly and almost double by 2030. To support this increasing energy demand the government has focused on expanding our energy mix and incentivised installation on non-fossil fuel-based energy generation plants to meet the current and future requirements. Understandably, manage the rapid complexities arising out of the increase in demand as well as generation capacities the country would need to shift en-mass towards establishing a robust smart electricity grid in the country.
Digitally augmented smart electricity grids will help to automate and manage the increasing intricacies on the supply as well as the demand side. Smart grids will not only help in smartly integrating renewable energy but would be extremely helpful in reducing AT&C losses. With the reduction in AT&C losses, the crisis in the power distribution sector can be alleviated, and the DISCOMS can become efficient.
Data from public sector undertaking Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL) shows that utilities have smart metering infrastructure showed 95% billing efficiency during the lockdown in the first quarter of this fiscal year, and were additional able to generate 15-20% more revenue per meter.
There is already a push from government as well as power sector to replace conventional electricity meters into prepaid smart meter. Government of India has shown considerable focus on smart metering and Energy Efficiency Services Ltd.’s (EESL) Smart Meter National Programme aims to retrofit 250 million conventional meters with smart variants in the coming years.
Advanced Smart Metering Infrastructure provides a reliable and effective solution Large-scale adoption of smart metering solutions can quickly ramp up collection efficiency for the DISCOMS. AMI enables two-way communications with customers, remote meter reading for error-free data, identifying network problems; load profiling, energy audit and partial load curtailment in place of load shedding.
From the perspective of DISCOMS and utility, a major driver pushing for quick adoption of smart meters is the reduction in AT&C loss. At the same time, it allows for seamless online billing process, real time tracking of electricity usage, and reduction of billing errors.
DISCOMs will also get the advantage of tracking inefficient points of losses and unauthorized usage of electricity network while also analyzing and predicting energy requirement. With real time sharing of data on energy usage will help in keeping the energy grid balanced and better managed. Additionally, smart meters enable time of day metering and thus contribute to the better integration of renewable power in India’s energy mix.
From the consumer point of view, smart metering infrastructure enhances consumer satisfaction through better grievance management, system stability, reliability and transparency. Consumers can access real time information on energy consumption in an in-home display unit, thus allowing consumers to under stand their energy use that can translate into energy and capital savings for the consumers.
Today’s smart metering technology is rapidly evolving to cater to the ever growing need of the power segment, at the time smart metering technology can be effectively used to monitor water and piped cooking gas connections as well. For smart meters the emerging possibilities are immense and lot of technological innovation are being undertaken to make the smart meters more and more smarter. With the capacity to harness and process more and more data, smart meters are becoming more and more advanced and efficient.
Cellular technology is rapidly advancing and smart meters with 2G & 3G technologies are no longer capable of supporting the data speeds for modern communications. Latest technological research and innovation in smart metering technology are looking for solutions such as 4G and LTE, Narrow-Band IoT (NB-IoT) for new generation smart meters. These cellular technologies are significantly better and offer higher density, making better use of available spectrum and at offer faster speeds and high level of scalability.
While there are tremendous advantages of smart meters, there are some potential security challenges, such as ranging from privacy breach to state-sponsored cyber-attacks that need to taken into consideration while rapidly adopting smart meter technology. Enhanced security protocols, advanced encryption and management Systems specifically designed for smart energy grid must be designed taking into consideration the cyber security challenges faced by India.
With the eagerness of the government to bring in reforms to the power sector, easily availability of resources, renewed thrust on ‘aatmanirbhar’ manufacturing, and urgency to revive ailing DISCOMS, makes the switch to advanced smart metering infrastructure more viable today and is absolutely the need of the hour. Smart metering is the quickly becoming the new norm in the power and utility industry. Already traditional metering system with manual data collection becoming obsolete and with further the advancement of IoT technology, it is only a matter of time to implement advanced smart metering infrastructure across the length and breadth of a country.
- Mr. Gautam Seth, Joint Managing Director, HPL Electric & Power Ltd