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‘Smart grids can keep control of increasing electricity rates’

According to reports, the implementation of smart grid technologies in transmission and distribution of electricity can help keep a check on increasing rates, feels France-based major Alstom. This would help emerging economies such as India where electricity tariff impacts not only household consumers but also manufacturing sector of the country.

Laurent Schmitt, Vice-President for Smart Grid Solutions of Alstom, said that electricity rates would go up by atleast two to five per cent in the next couple of years because of rise in generation cost. “This would expose more people to higher cost, but smart grid applications will help mitigate the rise in cost,” Schmitt explained.

Several political parties in India including the Aam Admi Party and BJP have claimed to reduce electricity rates if voted to power in the forthcoming general elections. However, currently this is done by way of subsidies (Aam Admi party has implemented in Delhi) that impact Government’s budget and not a long-term solution.

“The situation is evolving at the level of distribution. This is a clear political will to make things happen. We are going to see more and more distribution networks implementing smart grid concepts,” said Patrick Plas, Senior Vice-President for Grid Power Electronics and Automation at Alstom.

A smart grid means an intelligent electrical network with two-way flow of energy and real-time information between power generation, grid operators and consumers.

Simply put this scheme would enable nation-wide monitoring of power flows across the grid, responding to fluctuations within a fraction of a second. Real-time data ensures that supplier can intervene immediately to adjust and match electricity supply to demand.

Efficiently managing the network leads to reduce in transmission losses and better management of power supply finally impacting the electricity rates. Cost management will be based on real-time information.

Smart grids offers – reliable and affordable power with integration of renewable sources into the network.

In addition to keep a check on rates, smart grid technologies also help to prevent massive blackouts (or failure of grids) such as one faced by India two years back when half of country’s population in 22 States faced darkness.

Smart grid market is realising around eight per cent compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) that would take up the market to EURO 51 billion in 2020 from €29 billion in 2013, said Plas.

Plas also added that there could be around 20 per cent savings in capital expenditure by companies after implementing smart grids.

The France-based Alstom is a global leader in implementing smart grid technologies. Currently, 12 out of 16 largest power grid operators across the globe have chosen Alstom’s solution, known as e-terra.

In India, its subsidiary Alstom T&D India has bagged an order worth of Rs. 381.7 crore from Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd (PGCIL) to supply solutions for improving the grid.

Alstom would equip 34 control centres across India with phasor measurement units, which analyses weak spots in the system in real-time and prevent the repeat of 2012 blackout.

At the same time, implementation of smart grids help integration of renewable energy into the distribution network. Currently, states such as Tamil Nadu, which has substantial renewable generation capacity, faces difficulty in bringing in such sources in to the network because of fluctuations and un-predictability in generation from wind or solar projects.

According to International Energy Agency, India would see about 25 per cent increase of renewables in total load by 2035. By that time, it would required to manage the electricity grids smartly to prevent them from collapsing.

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