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ABB seeks to play a key role in smart grid depolyment in India

According to reports, smart grids are being deployed in electricity networks to bring about a change in the energy delivery system.

Such grids seek to bridge the demand-supply gap by reducing transmission and distribution losses and through integration of renewable energy sources into the grid networks.

Zurich, Switzerland-based ABB is engaged in transmission projects globally and in India. It sees an exciting future ahead in deploying smart grid solutions.

Subir Pal, Country Marketing Head, ABB India Ltd, in an interaction with Business Line explains how smart grids are set to make a difference. Excerpts:

Smart grids are being taken up in a big way in Europe, the US, and other markets. What is happening in India?

Different countries have their own drivers that call for the implementation of smart grid technologies.

The US has an ageing infrastructure long overdue for renovation while European countries such as Germany need a strong backbone that can integrate renewable resources sustainably into the power distribution system.

For India, the main drivers are reducing the gap between demand and supply during peak hours, reducing transmission and distribution losses and sustainable integration of renewable energy.

The Indian Government set up the India Smart Grid Task Force (ISGTF) and India Smart Grid Forum (ISGF) to help prepare a roadmap for smart grid rollout. In August, the Ministry of Power adopted the roadmap.

Last year, the Ministry of Heavy Industries adopted the ‘National Electric Mobility Plan 2020’, which aims to facilitate the rollout of 6 million electric vehicles in India by 2020.

The Ministry of Power has also approved 14 smart grid pilot projects to test various functionalities of smart grid technologies. However, these pilot projects are yet to take off.

Have States begun to deploy these solutions in India? Are you working with any of them?

Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd is finalising the world’s largest Wide Area Monitoring System (WAMS) project which, once completed, will be able to predict grid disturbances and take corrective action to tackle instability in the system. ABB plans to participate in this project.

ABB is executing one of the most powerful high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission systems in the world, here in India.

Once completed, this HVDC link will be able to bring in 6,000 MW of clean hydro power all the way from Assam to Agra, across a distance of over 1,700 km. HVDC is extremely efficient over such long distances — the energy saved due to reduced losses would be equivalent to electricity generated by a 250-MW power plant per year.

ABB has also delivered one of the largest supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) energy management systems and data handling projects in the world.

This integrates Karnataka’s power transmission and distribution systems, energy audit and customer billing systems into a single platform.

The solution monitors the power network of the entire State, provides accurate and real-time information on power supply and revenues, and enables operators to identify and correct faults quickly.

Will the adoption of solar rooftop and grid connected solutions spur the deployment of net metering?

Net metering, coupled with a feed-in-tariff policy, will encourage the adoption of solar rooftop and result in bi-directional flow of power.

Since most of this will happen in the distribution part of the grid, there is a need to strengthen it so as to absorb the fluctuations in the flow of electricity. This, in turn, will spur the use of advanced technologies in the distribution network.

What role is ABB playing in deployment of smart grids in India?

ABB has been part of several smart grid projects globally. We are leveraging our experience to meet India’s unique requirements.

As a member of the India Smart Grid Forum (ISGF), ABB has been working towards the adoption of smart grid technologies and contributing towards the roadmap now adopted by the Ministry of Power.

It is the co-chair of the Working Group on Cyber Security as we believe that any solution has to be secure and resilient to deliberate attacks as well as non-malicious failures. ABB is a key player in the upcoming smart grid pilot projects through its solutions for outage management, improving power quality, micro grids, communication, renewable integration and distribution automation.

How does the smart grid help cut transmission and distribution losses?

India has a peak demand-supply gap of about 10 per cent. While installing gas and hydro power generation to provide peak power is one option, it is a long-term solution. Energy efficiency and demand-side management can solve this problem to some extent in the short term. An open electricity market, complemented by technology support, can make demand elastic with respect to generation. Inefficiencies in the transmission and distribution system can be addressed by using more efficient equipment, enhancing the power carrying capability of the transmission and distribution system, adequate reactive power compensation and reducing outage times and losses through the energy delivery chain.

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