Thursday, August 30, 2012
Smart grid gaining prominence in India, but some hurdles remain
India has gained a reputation for being a nation with one of the weakest power infrastructures relative to its level of development. This notion was furthered earlier this year when an extended outage left much of the country without power for several days. Since then, many experts have been talking about the need for a large-scale utility grid upgrade project that would involve smart grid architectures. According to a recent Economic Times report, the smart grid offers considerable potential in India, but the current infrastructure may not be completely ready to handle the innovation at this point.
The new source explained that the smart grid is, at its core, an IT-enabled utility grid. Through a variety of networking and data management systems, the technology tracks power use metrics in real time and predicts how much energy will be needed at any given moment. This allows utility companies to integrate data management with power generation sites, enabling a setup in which the amount of electricity created more closely matches what is needed, improving efficiency.
Smart grid systems also offer improved reliability when compared to traditional utility systems because they allow power companies to more accurately understand the various dynamics of the energy delivery system and pinpoint any problems. However, simply stapling smart grid on top of the existing energy grid is not necessarily the answer to the problems in India.
The report explained that a weak utility system that has major flaws cannot easily handle smart grid and could limit the impact the technology has on operations. This results in an inability to maximize the automation technologies that are built into the smart grid and forces organizations to either make strategic upgrades to prepare for smart grid or enable manual operations within certain parts of the infrastructure, limiting the technology's impact on operations.
Making the most of smart grid infrastructure can be a challenge. While nations like India face an especially difficult utility environment that could hinder smart grid innovation, even countries like the United States feature a grid that is largely built on century-old architectures. While this can slow smart grid adoption, it also means that the upgrade to support smart grid will likely be a major improvement over existing systems, leading to better energy reliability and efficiency.
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