Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What is In Store for Grids?

23 billion dollars! This will be the estimated cost of electricity distribution losses in India by 2014. The improvements that our electricity distribution grids need to put in — administrative and technological— cannot be underestimated. Elsewhere on our grids, problems like congestion persist. As the appetite of the country to consume more electricity increases and the trend for interstate open access increases, there will be increased pressure on our grid infrastructure in future.

There will be new challenges to which the electricity grids in future will have to live up. India aspires to generate a sixth of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. Major renewable energy sources like wind power generates infirm power and therefore introduces variations in the electricity grid. Currently, since the generation of electricity from renewable sources, primarily wind energy is very low- around 5 per cent therefore it poses no challenge. But in future when this share increases, it will gradually start posing challenges of grid management.

And I must also mention some other possible scenarios which can further pose more challenges to our grid infrastructure- Electric Cars. If electric cars do penetrate sizably by the end of the next decade they will require our grid to be even smarter. India has announced policy mission for electric cars All these challenges not only require more investments into our electricity grid, to add more capacity but more importantly we need to make this capacity Smart grid is currently a term used to describe a number of new features that are being envisaged in future grids to cope up with the various future challenges.Yet it is important to see in one new interesting way in which the grids of future may transform- energy storage. The grids currently do not store energy through their networks. Power storage currently is a very costly option and it makes little sense for power storage, as both the losses involved in the power storage and the capital cost of power storage is significant But can the bets that are currently placed on innovations in power storage technology change that? If breakthrough storage technologies emerge then yes and the dice is probably loaded for that outcome.A majority of cleantech industry believes that battery is perhaps the most important opportunity area based on a recent survey. From thin film batteries next generation batteries. All those early signs of progress are out there already. In that case the grids of future will not only transmit power but they will also store power intermittently or provide extensive interface to power storage devices. Advances in the energy storage technology will advance many other clean technologies like electric vehicles and even allow renewable energy sources to supply energy more reliably. But what that will do to our grid is even more exciting. It is very likely that new grid management technologies that store power within the distribution networks will come up. This will allow distribution companies great flexibility in power distribution. For example it is possible that distribution companies may draw power during the afternoon slot and store the power within their distribution grid... .. Continue

Courtesy : Yash Saxena (www.businessworld.in)

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