“We need to define what we need out of smart grid”
Smart grid has got multiple components. First of all, it is ICT-based and includes enterprise resource planning (ERP) and computerised billing. The second component is SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition – a centralised system which monitors and controls complex systems spread out over large areas). The third component is geographical information system (GIS). And the fourth, which is one of the most important pillars, is advance metering infrastructure (AMI).
The implementation of smart grid is marred by various challenges. The first challenge it at the consumer level itself. There exists a resistance among the consumers when it comes to changing the existing meters. Smart meters are five times costlier than the existing static meters. The consumer may not be able to pay for the same and hence the resistance.
The second challenge is of capacity building. Making stakeholders accept the new technology is a challenge in itself which needs to be eliminated. One cannot come with a new technology and implement it suddenly. Organisations need to change for it.
The third challenge is that regulators who assume key offices are not from technical background. They are generally civil servants who have no background or knowledge of the power sector. Also, various decisions in the power sector are taken by politicians and regulators. That is another part of the problem.
As a nation, we need to define for this country what we exactly need out of smart grid. We have a billing system which is smart. We have a relay system which is smart. So, we need to define what we mean by smart grid. In my opinion, smartness lies in the system where there is no loss, either of energy or money.
There is no end to smartness. What is smart today may be outdated tomorrow and there will be a smarter technology in place in future. We should, instead, be looking at the consumer’s requirement and should try to identify and define what we actually need. Experience of models and private entities should be taken into account. There is a need for knowledge sharing, capacity building, research and development and measures to make everything cost-effective.