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IEEE Forays into India with Smart Grid on it’s Platter

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By Faiz Askari, Editor-Technology, Small Enterprise India.com

Adopting international standards in the business processes can definitely add immense value to the end product that comes out of the lab or factory. However, it becomes mandatory to stick to international standards in order to do business at the global level. At times, this becomes a challenge for Indian technology start ups to hunt for best practices that they should follow. For such organizations, there is a news for some relief as IEEE, world’s largest technical professional association, announced the formation of the IEEE Standards Interest Group (SIG) for India.

Another important area that Indian industry is eagerly looking forward to see some action is into the area of power sector. The real challenge in India is the lack of awareness of the importance of standards among the Indian technical professionals and also not fully understanding its role and value in development of technology; this had led to less participation in the standards process and this needs to change as many of these professionals are doing cutting edge work and their contribution or participation will make a difference; Education, hence is key.

Smart GridsAs a core focus of it’s activities in India, SIG chooses Smart Grid, Cloud Computing, Communications and Design automation as its initial focus. It is mainly because of the fact that the association found that there was ready interest among various stakeholders in these areas; we will add more as we go along. However, IEEE is uniquely positioned to guide, collaborate and help companies succeed in Smart Grid as no other organization encompasses the entire lifecycle from pre-standardization, accelerated standards development to post-standards activities.

Global standards will play a huge role in determining whether nations go it alone in Smart Grid with varying degrees of success, or if we share and benefit from technological expertise everywhere so Smart Grid can serve the greatest expanse of people, efficiently and effectively using our natural resources, while benefiting an extremely broad range of industries and economies. Global standards will play a huge role in determining whether nations go it alone in Smart Grid with varying degrees of success, or if we share and benefit from technological expertise everywhere so Smart Grid can serve the greatest expanse of people, efficiently and effectively using our natural resources, while benefiting an extremely broad range of industries and economies.

In the works since last year, the IEEE SIG heralds a new chapter in India’s role in the global standards process and will provide a platform for increased involvement of the local technical community in global standards development. The initiative is driven by IEEE sections in India with active support from IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA), the standards development organization of IEEE. Srikanth Chandrasekaran of Freescale Semiconductors would lead the IEEE SIG as its chair. Cloud Computing and Smart Grid have already garnered significant interest and momentum due to various factors including market demand.

Smart Grid as a concept is an idea whose time has come as IT and communication technologies have advanced to an extent which makes it possible and the worldwide emphasis on green energy and power efficiency just reinforcing it and making it a key focus area. Announcing the SIG, Judy Gorman, Managing Director, IEEE-SA, said,” India is among the largest and most promising markets in the world. A leader in the community of technology-developing countries, India boasts the world’s second largest engineering/technology professionals’ pool. Engaging India’s technical professional community in the standards process is therefore a must. The participation of Indian professionals will ensure challenges and factors unique to India are considered in global standards development. The IEEE SIG represents a significant step forward in the organization’s growing engagement with India. Besides providing an established forum to promote and help evangelize IEEE standards interests in India.”

By engaging Indian technical professionals, IEEE-SA ensures that problems and needs specific to India are included in the process. Srikanth Chandrasekaran, Chair of the India IEEE SIG said,” While India’s growing technological prowess is acknowledged widely, there are many technical professionals that are not aware of the importance of standards in technology development, nor actively participate in the standards process. As India becomes the R&D/IT/design hub for multiple industries and verticals it is vital that IEEE engages the Indian technical community in standards development.” “We look forward to building on the initial momentum with active support from IEEE Standards Association—as one of the most credible global standards development organizations in the technical arena. This is surely a boon not just for the country but for its large and growing community of technical professionals,” he further added.

IEEE-SA has listened and engaged with multiple stakeholders from AERC, Power Grid Corporation of India, Tata Power to GE Energy besides meeting with the ministry officials; the initial response has been very encouraging. Satish Aggarwal, Member, IEEE-SA Board of Governors/Senior Program Manager, United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said, “It is adopting a top down approach where it makes senior management aware of the relevance of standards in smart grid and then it percolates down to the staff level; staff level awareness is key as it is they who will execute the smart grid." Aggarwal also added, “It will take India at least 5 years if all factors go well to understand the concept of smart grid and get its plan together.”


Global Smart Grid

  • It is estimated that about $13 trillion will be spent on modernizing power grids worldwide by 2030. Smart Grid requires that we act globally since the world’s economies have become so inextricably interconnected.
  • Future energy networks will represent two-way power, two-way communications and two-way information technology service delivery.
  • Almost all areas of technology will be either impacted or integrated into future energy networks, and standards will play the vital and critical role necessary to achieve this integrated model.
  • As individual countries/markets like India develop their respective Smart Grid strategies, standards will need to recognize the intersection of technology and public policy. Most importantly, the Smart Grid scenario must develop standards that will be expected to stand the test of time and factor in local variations as well.

India Smart Grid

  • 80% of villages are ‘electrified’
  • 45% of the population doesn’t have access to electricity
  • Approximately 400 Million people without electricity (US population close to 300 Million)
  • For other 55%, power-cuts and rationing are a norm
  • Aggregate Technical & Commercial (AT&C) losses are very high – 32% is the national average with variance from 18% to 62%
  • High electricity ‘theft’ – accounts for 1.5 percent of nation’s GDP; poor policing/enforcement due to political reasons compounded by subsidies to agricultural sector (free or very low-cost power which is often un-metered; also hard to separate free power from ‘theft’
  • 50 Electricity Distribution companies in India; generally state-owned monopolies which are loss making entities and struggle to be financially viable; Low billing and collection efficiency (50% billed and only 41% collected); average loss 11% of sales annually due to high AT&C losses and poor revenue collection)
  • Estimated utility loss at Rs. 40,000 crores in 2010 and expected to exceed Rs. 68,000 crores by 2014-15.
  • Reform of the distribution sector identified as a key need by the government with the following as the focus areas - reducing AT&C losses; open-Access for the distribution network to foster competition; laws against theft – better enforcement, better communication; privatization & franchising of distribution network; demand Side Management – especially in agricultural sector; rationalization of tariffs and removal of cross-subsidies and high Penetration of Distributed Energy Resources
  • Many customers are taking things in their own hands–plants, IT units, Special economic zones (SEZs) have captive generation; large residential complexes usually have near-100% power back-up through captive generation
  • Small residential customers have a high penetration of distributed energy resources – diesel-generators; battery-inverter packs – peak-load shifting and load management
  • Bulk of India lives in one or two room houses with very little electricity. Its consumption is also less—1/3rd of China, 1/10th of Europe, 1/20th of US—though it is spurting rapidly. Also, we understand rupee/paisa better than watts/volts. Thus while smart metering at the utility level is necessary and also required for the industrial and high end consumers, it will not be relevant for 80% of the Indian population for the next several years.
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