The smart cities of tomorrow will need a dynamic power generation and supply system that is capable of delivering quality power without compromising energy efficiency, and smart grids provide just that
As of June, the electricity sector in India had an installed capacity of 303 gigawatt making India the world’s third largest producer of electricity with 4.8 per cent global share in electricity generation surpassing Japan and Russia. But inspite of this strong position, India continues to suffer from inefficient and erratic power supply.
Over the years, the quality of power generation and supply has not been able to keep up with the pace of development, this in turn has led to excessive dependence on polluting power generating sets.
For instance, Gurgaon (now Gurugram) consumes around 350,000 liters of diesel for its generators every hour during a power cut as nearly 14 per cent of Gurgaon’s alternative power requirement is fulfilled by diesel power generators.
Infrastructure has never been the strongest point of the millennium city whose roads are under perpetual repair amid seemingly endless construction activity.
Adding to these difficulties, the bustling satellite city to Delhi has been struggling with prolonged power cuts due to frequent tripping of feeders and voltage fluctuations.
These conditions, primarily on the power supply front, are now set to change, thanks to the smart grid project approved in October 2015. Under this project, Gurgaon is expected to become the first city in India to get a full-scale smart grid by the end of 2017 thereby putting an end to diesel generators and chronic power woes.
The total cost of the smart grid project is an estimated Rs7,000 crore in which the Union Government will contribute Rs273 crore for the first phase of the project.
On the other hand, the State Government will contribute the same amount whereas the Power System Development Fund will provide the remaining amount. This exceptional initiative of the Union Government will not only prove beneficial to the environment in the longer run, but will set the foundation for smart cities.
The smart cities of tomorrow will need a dynamic power generation and supply system that is capable of delivering quality power without compromising energy efficiency, and smart grids provide just that.
Smart grids have the demand response capacity to strike a balance between power consumption and supply. Besides this, smart grids can integrate new energy sources like solar and wind with traditional sources. This will enable the citizens of smart cities to eventually integrate their solar or wind systems with the grid and start feeding unused power into the grid.
This unused power, therefore, gets adjusted against the total consumption from the mains, leaving the consumers to pay only for the balance that they have consumed. Moreover, if the consumers have fed to grid more than they have consumed, they can get paid as well.
The Gurgaon example must come as a stimulus for other power challenged cities. The respective State Governments must push for a new grid system that is automated and has integrated communication and IT systems that help the grid monitor power flows from points of generation to points of consumption and control the power flow or curtail the load to match generation in real time or near real time.
The increased visibility, predictability, and even control of generation and demand bring flexibility to both generation and consumption and enable the utility to better integrate intermittent renewable generation.
As a first step towards a smarter grid, the States must add additional layers of automation, communication and IT systems to the existing traditional grids.
India is expected to have a potential demand of 900 gigawatt by 2032, in view of this India must ramp up its power generation. Over the years the quotient of renewable energy is only growing which by itself is a positive development that bodes well for the environment.
But for renewable energy to merge seamlessly into the main grid, the grid itself will have to have smarter systems to manage it efficiently and ensure its stability and reliability.
This is possible only if today’s grids are prepared for smart cities by upgrading them to have smarter systems and applications.
In view of the growing importance and relevance for smart grids in India, a transparent and comprehensive plan and roadmap for the implementation of smart grids needs to be evolved which would help technology development, capacity building and investment planning by all stakeholders and could ensure completion of projects in planned timelines.
This needs to be taken up on topmost priority by the Government in tandem with smart cities project.