Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Smart Grid Interaction:IEEE-SA pinpoints four key challenges for Smart Grid Implentation in India

What are the Smart Grid Implementation Challenges in India?
The Power Industry calls for a complete switch into the next generation through automation. Despite monetary issues, power utilities need to begin with basic automation systems eventually upgrading to the advanced systems.  By analyzing the growing power demand and market competence, this is the only way-forward for the domestic power industry. The implementation of Smart Grid is not going to be an easy task as the Indian power sector poses a number of issues  such as minimizing T&D losses, power theft, inadequate grid infrastructure, low metering efficiency and lack of awareness.

Power theft: Power theft has been one of the major  issues in India. A few ways to help prevent the power theft are the use of overhead lines that are insulated and the LT overhead wires used for distribution of power  could be replaced with insulated cables in order to minimize the theft of energy through hooking. The conventional energy meters could be replaced with digital tamper proof meters and the use of prepaid card is  yet another solution to eradicate theft of energy.

Inadequate Grid Infrastructure: For India to continue along its path of aggressive economic growth, it needs to build a modern, intelligent grid. It is only with a reliable, financially secure Smart Grid that India can provide a stable environment for investments in electric infrastructure - a prerequisite to fixing the fundamental problems with the grid.

Low metering efficiency: The commercial losses are mainly due to low metering efficiency, theft & pilferage. This may be eliminated by improving metering efficiency, proper energy accounting & auditing and improved billing & collection efficiency. Fixing of accountability of the personnel / feeder managers may help considerably in reduction of AT&C loss.

Lack of awareness: The understanding of consumers on how power is delivered to their homes is very minimal.  Before implementing Smart Grid concepts, they should be educated about  the Smart Grids, the benefits of Smart Grid and Smart Grid’s contribution to low carbon economy. Consumers should be made aware about their energy consumption pattern at home, office etc. Utilities need to focus on the overall capabilities of Smart Grids rather than mere implementation of smart meters. Policy makers and regulators must be very clear about the future prospects of Smart Grids.

Smart Grid being an expensive affair, in your view, how should India tackle the financing challenge?
The major challenge for implementing smart Grid in India is availability of funds. Huge investments are required in order to setup a link between the customers and the Smart Grid. The cost of setting up more plants can be deferred drastically. At that point of time, more emphasis will be on overall development of T&D efficiency based on demand response, load control and many other Smart Grid technologies. With timely and detailed information provided by Smart Grids, customers would be encouraged to avoid over use, adopt energy-efficient building standards and invest continually in energy efficient appliances.  To tackle the Smart Grid future, we need to have  compelling Smart Grid consumer products, collaborative vendor partnerships and a willing investment community. The  policy makers and regulators have to implement a robust incentive model frame work  to attract more and more private investments keeping the rate of return, based  on the output generated.  Policy makers and regulators can mitigate this by seeking economies of scale and implementing advanced digital technologies.

What role does IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) have for smart grid development in India?
India is ranked as the third largest market for smart grid investments. Smart grid is a strategic area of focus for IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA). Through India Smart Grid Task Force, an initiative of Ministry of Power, India, IEEE-SA have been able to create an initial momentum in this area. The India Smart Grid Task Force is an inter ministerial group and serves as a government focal point for activities related to Smart Grid.

To drive the smart grid development in India, IEEE-SA is dedicated to working with industry professionals, academia and government officials. A Standards Interest Group (SIG) for India has been formed as the first step and it provides a platform for the Indian technical community to participate in global standards development. As one of the world's leading standards development organizations, IEEE-SA acts as a catalyst to bring standards developed in India on a global scale. In addition to standards development, IEEE-SA is focusing on creating awareness and educating about smart grid through various workshops and panel discussions across the country. Efforts are being made in India to create a collaborative environment which will work towards setting global standards wherein deployment of interoperable technologies using the Smart Grid will become a reality faster.

What are the key achievements, actions and initiatives of IEEE-SA in India?
IEEE-SA is actively growing its engagement in India to educate, and promoting Smart Grid Standards interests in the country. With the formation of Standards Interest Group (SIG) for India, IEEE-SA has successfully engaged India and its professional technical community in global standards development including those for the Smart Grid. Outreach programs like Smart Grid workshops deliberating the role of standards and challenges in the Indian context are also being conducted across cities.  IEEE-SA have conducted outreach programs to directly interact with Indian companies in order to focus on the field of power, communications and information technology, to solicit their interest to participate in IEEE standards projects.

Smart Grid Cyber security being a major challenge- what impact, according to you, will Standards have on the Smart Grid Cyber Security?
With the transition to digital electricity infrastructure comes the challenge of communication security and data management; as digital networks are more prone to malicious attacks from software hackers, security becomes the key issue to be addressed.  Smart Grid success depends on the successful handling of two major IT issues, i.e   security & integration and data handling. With an increase in computers and communication networks   the   threat of cyber-attack has also increased invariably. Utilities can use and implement cyber security standards to reduce the venerability to the consumers and provide a higher reliability that their valuable information is being protected. Implementing cyber security measure through the use of standards will help reduce software and implementation cost.

As it is observed, there has been certain degree of backlash and apprehension to Smart Grid implementation in developed countries, particularly in the USA. How do you think a country like India with its vast diversity and political complexities should address these issues?

IEEE-SA is closely working with groups in India, such as the engineering community including vendors, utilities, academics to participate in the standards development and work towards implementing smart grid successfully in India. Also having the technical participant from India provide requirement to ensure standards development groups to understand and identify any possible gaps and address some of India technical issue. Also because of the challenges that India has, a more robust grid will be welcomed.

An interaction with Srikanth Chandrasekaran, Regional Program Manager, IEEE Standards Associations

Friday, August 3, 2012

IEEE Standards Association is now an Associate Member of India Smart Grid Forum (ISGF)

The IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA), a globally recognized standards setting body within IEEE, today announced that it has become an associate member of the India Smart Grid Forum (ISGF) promoted by Ministry of Power, Govt. of India. The membership will allow IEEE-SA to attend forum meetings and participate in initiatives driven by the forum. The growing role in the Indian smart grid market is in line with the stated commitment of IEEE-SA to play a macro role in evolving the right ecosystem for effective smart grid implementation here. IEEE-SA will bring its deep standards related knowledge and arising perspectives to the deliberations at the forum and thus make it more holistic.  IEEE-SA has been continually investing over the past two years in creating wider awareness of Smart Grid as a concept and also in bringing multiple stakeholders together to transfer best practices and knowledge from other Smart Grid markets worldwide.

Commenting on the membership, Bill Ash, Strategic Program Manager, IEEE Standards Association, said “We believe ISGF is the apt platform for the facilitating role we have chosen to play and are pleased to be the first association to become a member. The membership marks a significant step forward in our growing engagement with the Indian Smart Grid market. Beyond participation, we will actively contribute and help ISGF achieve the objectives it has set for itself.”

IEEE-SA has launched key standards and guidelines such as the IEEE 2030® Smart Grid Interoperability Guide, the first such standard that aids interoperability of energy, information and communications technologies; IEEE 1547TM, the first guide for implementation of Microgrids and the IEEE 1901TM standard for Broadband over Power Line. More standards are in the pipeline providing among the most comprehensive, globally accepted and validated set of standards that enable better interoperability, connection, communication and management of the various elements that go into a Smart Grid. Currently, IEEE-SA has over 100 standards and standards-in-development spanning the entire Smart Grid spectrum.

About ISGF:
The India Smart Grid Forum is a non-profit voluntary consortium of public and private stakeholders formed with the objective of helping Indian power sector to deploy Smart Grid technologies in an efficient, cost-effective, innovative and scalable manner by bringing together all the key stakeholders and enabling technologies. Visit for more information.

About the IEEE Standards Association:
The IEEE Standards Association, a globally recognized standards setting body within IEEE, develops consensus standards through an open process that engages industry and brings together a broad stake holder community. IEEE standards set specifications and best practices based on current scientific and technological knowledge. The IEEE SA has a portfolio of over 900 active standards and more than 500 standards under development. For more information visit

About IEEE:
IEEE, the world’s largest technical professional association, is dedicated to advancing technology for the benefit it to humanity. Through its highly cited publications, conferences, technology standards, and professional and educational activities, IEEE is the trusted voice on a variety of areas ranging from a aerospace systems, computer sand telecommunications to bio medical engineering, electric power and consumer electronics. Learn more at

(Press Release)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Massive power blackouts answers why smart grid is the necessity for India

In this modern era when everything runs on electricity, power is a lifeline, without it, life is unthinkable and unsustainable.  This was well experienced by more than 620 million (roughly 10% of the world population) people in India by two successive power blackouts. Trains, metros, traffic lights, and many essential service halted which caused chaos everywhere. People traveling were stranded on railway station, metros, bus stop or on the road, water delivering system stopped, miners were trapped in mines, no Air-conditioning or even fans in this intense heat. With all sort of in-convenience and pains, the financial and productivity loss is yet to be counted, which may be massive when the figures are released. The swath of more than 2000 miles from the border of Pakistan to the border of Myanmar was affected.  By many expert this is probably the world's worst power blackouts, In India where brown-outs are so common in day to day life, many essential services like hospitals, airports police stations, and some businesses were well equipped with backup power to carry out their operations normally.

NY Times reported, "The country which is considered rising economic power this massive electric grid failure was an embarrassing reminder how intractable problems are still plauging India : Inadequate infrastructure, crippling power shortage, and according to many critics and yawning absence of governmental action and leadership."

Power outage affected regions (courtesy: NewYork Times)
What caused two successive power failures in northern and eastern India is yet to be known, which may take several months to figure out, and as per Reuters, it may never be precisely known as it is a complex process. Nonetheless, various media reports and experts revealed that possibly and most likely reason could be overdrawing of power by certain states due to excessive demands which is attributed to high heat and below par monsoon which prompted farmers to run electric motors to water their dying crops. In essence it is a demand-supply issue. Even in normal scenario, India has peak power shortage of 10.2%, according to recent government report.

On one end, the below normal moonsoon and excessive heat created unprecedented scenario that skyrocket demand, whereas on other end the low level of water in dams would have reduced energy output causing huge demand -supply gap. This would have caused failure in one regional location that generated cascading effect in whole transmission and distribution network. According to,  the director general of the Confederation of Indian Industry, said, “The increasing gap between electricity supply and demand has long been a matter of concern,” 

Though government has taken series of steps to increase the generation capacity, it has lagged behind its own five-year target plans. While, there are more than 300 million people who are yet to receive electricity in India; the demand is increasing day by day due to host of factors; such as higher growth -  which requires more energy due to increase in economic activities and better quality life, climate change - causing unusual weather condition again needs more electricity to maintain normal temperature, Populist politics - offering free electricity, this is causing wastage of energy. In addition to this, almost 30 -50% generated power is lost due to theft and other technical and non-technical factors.

Over the years, the generation capacity has increased, however such complex challenges cannot be handled just by increasing the generation. A variety of urgent measures are needed to overcome the various challenges that are spreading like a wildfire.

Smart Grid is such a solution, which intends tackle all aspect of energy from generation to distribution to utilization. According to Wikipedia, "A smart grid is an electrical grid that uses computers and other technology to gather and act on information, such as information about the behaviors of suppliers and consumers, in an automated fashion to improve the efficiency, reliability, economics, and sustainability of the production and distribution of electricity."

While, the developed economies are adopting smart grid for greater reliability and sustainability, for countries like India it is indeed a necessity. As pointed out by the Samir Sachdev in GovernanceNow,  "Had there been a smart grid, this crisis could have been easily been avoided. A smart grid would have shared the data in real-time which would have helped to instantaneously identify the fault. Smart grid would have also initiated self-healing and would have cordoned the fault line and restricted the impact of the failure." Mr. Sam Pitroda, the chairman of India Smart Grid Task Force (ISGTF) said, "While it may be difficult to guarantee perfect power availability, in the current context, we can at least replace blackouts with brown-outs by providing a basic threshold of power to all households, with which to run at least a few key appliances.” as reported by

In recent past, the government has taken series of steps to address various issues plauging the energy sector, such as rolling out R-APDRP program in 2004, Setting up India Smart Grid Task Force and India Smart Grid Forum, National Energy Efficiency Mission, however this development are moving at its own pace.

Though Smart Grid may be a panacea for the India's ailing power-grid and energy sector, according to Rajit Gadh, who founded UCLA's Smart Grid Energy Research Center, "India’s first challenge is to make the vast grid easier to monitor, so that engineers can spot the cause of an outage quickly -- even in advance." "When you have less data coming in about the grid, there is less number of things you can do and you are often shooting in the dark," says Gadh as reported by

The other options that Smart Grid offers is establishing MicroGrid - an island of power generation and consumption which can run on its own and may even help the Grid in stress. MicroGrid could be installed at a campus such as the one developed by Cisco and Wipro at Lavasa, or at commercial -scale, something Echelon is working on at high-end residential complex in Hyderabad, reports GreenTechMedia.

Demand Response is another such options which allows to manage peak power by offsetting the demand through pre-negotiated reduction in usage by the group which is ready to shift its needs to off-peak hours. An Indian start-up ecolibrium energy is working on this aspect in Ahmadabad-Gandhinagar region.

Such a massive power outage is a wake-up call for the national government to pursue Smart Grid at a higher priority in order to achieve energy sustainability. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Smart Grid automation firm ZIV Groups acquired by Crompton Greaves

Crompton Greaves (CG), the flagship company of Avantha Group, which is into business of power equipments and consumer durables has acquired Spanish smart grid automation company ZIV Groups for $185 million (Rs. 1015 Crore). The Mumbai based company is India largest and world's 10th largest transmission and distribution equipment maker company. Since 2005, it has acquired 10 companies to expand its business and market and now operates in 21 countries. With this acquisitions, the company has expanded its product portfolio and now broadly operates in three business segments - power systems, industrial systems, and consumer goods.

With its 11th purchase the ZIV group, CG intends to expand business operation into the emerging sector of Smart Grid. ZIV, which provides digital equipment for grid automation and Advanced Metering Infrastructure has so far installed 1.4 million IEDs for utilities and industries across the world. With operations in more than 50 countries, ZIV Group has significant presence in Brazil, Spain, India, and the USA.

The Smart Grid market is set to reach €90 billion by 2020, which represent important market opportunity for emerging company like Compton Greaves which has global ambition to become leader in its segment. Furthermore, its transmission and distribution offerings may well complement with ZIV's grid automation product that will enable the company to offer complete suit of products to its clients.

According to CEO of ZIV Group Mr Norberto Santiago Elustondo, “We feel very confident about the next phase of our relationship with CG as we know very well our colleagues as a result of the Joint Venture in India. This development will be a catalyst to grow the ZIV activities in new parts of the World Market. By this fusion with CG, together we will get the most from ZIV’s innovative technology”.

About Crompton Greaves:
CG is a pioneering leader in the management and application of electrical energy. CG operates globally, is present in 21 countries and employs more than 12000 employees.  CG provides electrical products, systems and services for Utilities, Power Generation, Industrial and Consumers. The company is organized into three business groups: Power, Industrial and Consumer.  Nearly, two-thirds of its turnover accrues from Product Lines in which it enjoys a leadership position. CG is a part of the US$ 4 Bn Avantha Group. The Avantha Group has an impressive global footprint and comprises 8 successful, diverse entities.