According to reports, with increasing competition in the power market, electricity price forecasting, say experts, has become a critical issue for better operational planning and maximising profits for service providers and households. A PhD student from IIT Bombay has developed a technology that can forecast electricity parameters, that is, it can predict prices of electricity and load for future use. As demand for power is huge in the country, the technology will help in saving both electricity and money.
The invention is in the area of smart grids, which refers to various functions that are geared up to modernise the electricity grid. A smart grid is a network of electricity transmission and distribution systems that can significantly improve efficiency and reliability of electricity delivery and use.
“This technology is applicable for smart grids, which are still under evolution in India and different energy utilities such as Reliance, Tata, PowerGrid and so on will need different solutions. Price forecasting is a key tool for both retailers and end-consumers. It will enable end-consumers in the retail markets to schedule their loads and for the retailers to procure (bid) power from the wholesale market. A huge amount of money can be saved if proper forecasting tool is used,” said V S K Murthy Balijepalli, who has developed the technology.
A study was conducted on residential customers’ load scheduling, with an assumption of having a price forecasting technology in their respective metering device. The results showed that the potential savings in the electricity bill ranged between 18.5 and 25.64 per cent daily. A second study on an Indian energy utility, which supplies power in Mumbai, shows that they can save around Rs 1.04 billion a year for 1,000 MW capacity if they use the price forecasting tool. The technology has been patented in India and US patent application has been filed. “The technology developed has tremendous potential,” said IIT-B Prof S A Khaparde, co-author of the patent.
It has been commercialised with the industry on a “non-exclusive basis”. It was also selected as one of the top 50 innovations under the Department of Science and Technology or DST- Lockheed Martin India growth programme 2012. “Kalkitech in Bangalore has paid royalty to IIT-B to commercialise this technology in India. DST-Lockheed Martin, as part of their ‘India innovation growth programme’ has appointed an external consultant to commercialise it in the US,” said Balijepalli.
How does this technology matter to the common man? “A primary focus area of the smart grid is end-consumer oriented services and involving them actively into the power supply chain. This involves offering the consumers the freedom to choose from a number of electricity retailers, providing them with the hardware and software tools for scheduling their energy consumption on a regular basis. And the main tool that can bring the end-consumer and energy utility on such an interactive platform in a smart grid scenario is price forecasting,” said Balijepalli.
The innovation has been nominated for final evaluation for the Indian edition of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Technology Review (TR) young innovators award 2012. TR is a magazine published by MIT that recognises innovators under the age of 35.