Smart Grid towards the Mission of Power for All

Smart grid will also play a major role in government’s key projects such as power for all, infrastructure development, and 100 smart cities. This article will describe about, what smart grid can do for India and how will it help India with uninterrupted power. 

smart-gridEnergy conservation is critical to resolving India’s power crisis. Millions of people have no access to power, with 40% households (about 400 million) going without power. Initiatives like Smart City and Digital India depend on power supply. The concept of a smart city is based on consistent power supply.

Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, and Analytics can reduce India’s power loss. Smart Grids, integrated controls, and connected sensors can result in efficient power transmission and energy conservation. It would also reduce dependency on non-renewable sources. Smart metering, cloud computing, and sensors are a must for efficient energy management.

40–48% electricity wasted in India

Transmission losses in India stand at 40–48% compared to world standard of 8%. If losses can be controlled, power shortage could be managed. According to the World Resources Institute, power transmission losses in India are around 27%—highest in the world. Millions of tons of coal and other non-renewable resources, at a tremendously high price for the environment, had been used to generate that electricity.

For a cleaner and safer environment, measures would have to be in place to drastically reduce electricity losses and conserve energy.

Smart grids ideal for reducing India’s electricity losses

Smart Grids are equipped with automation tools, integrated controls, and connected sensors for efficient power transmission, reduced operation and management expenses, as well as integration of energy systems for optimal utilization. Saving energy would reduce pollution and our dependency on non-renewable sources of energy, particularly fossil fuels.

Smart grid is very essential to meet the constantly increasing energy needs and the target of supplying 24/7 power for all by 2022. The country is making several efforts and is active in bringing the best of its solutions out of which smart grid is one solution that is expected to meet the energy demand. It is indeed the need of the hour as it transforms the electricity grid into more reliable grid which also helps in controlling and monitoring the electricity flow. Apart from that it helps in reducing transmission and distribution losses and power thefts making the power supply more reliable.

Globally, smart grid technology has been proven across various applications at several projects in all continents. There are several interesting projects for studying the various aspects of the network and unity operations. For example there are interventions in the area of improvement of network reliability and building resilient networks on one hand and enthusing the experience of the utility’s consumer through demand response platforms. The utilities are looking at new solutions in monitoring and controlling the networks and using advanced application software for bringing reliability and predictability in operations.

Countries across APAC region including India are today growing and electrifying quickly which is accelerating the benefits of smart grid thereby spurring the governments in the region to develop smart grid roadmaps and deployment plans. In the recent years, there has been great progress with regards to smart grid deployments especially with Singapore and Malaysia both rolling out over 8 million AMI meters.

Gurgaon to get India’s first smart grid, end use of diesel gensets

By the end of 2017, Gurgaon will become the first city in India to get a full-scale smart grid. The Millennium City, which has been struggling with prolonged power cuts, frequent tripping of feeders and voltage fluctuations, finally sees some progress in the Smart Grid project that was approved in October 2015. If all goes well, the city will soon see an end to diesel generators and chronic power woes.

According to reports, the Centre has committed Rs 273 crore for the first phase of the project. While the state government will contribute same amount, the remaining fund will come from Power System Development Fund. The total cost of the project has been estimated at Rs 7,000 crore with the first phase likely to cost Rs 1,382 crore.

The Centre’s decision to extend financial support to Haryana is seen as a way of rewarding one of the better performing states under Ujwal Discoms Assurance Yojana, a revival plan for state-owned power distribution companies. According to the Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal, the project will prove beneficial for conservation of environment and put an end to the role of builders for power supply.

Benefits of smart grid for Gurgaon residents

Smart grids increase quality of power supplies and increase energy efficiency. They have demand response capacity to strike a balance between power consumption and supply. Smart grids can integrate new energy sources like solar and wind with traditional sources.

Once smart grids get installed in Gurgaon, its residents with solar or wind systems can start feeding unused power into the grid. This unused power gets adjusted against total consumption from the mains. Consumers have to pay for the balance. They can also get paid for excess supply.

Consumers will become suppliers by day as they will feed surplus power from rooftop solar panels into the mains. A smart grid can also offer time-of-day metering, which means consumers can choose off-peak hours to run heavy appliances because power tariffs will be low during those hours. For a consumer, all these lead to uninterrupted supply of power and, that too, at a reduced cost.

Main features of the Smart Grid project
  • Under the Smart Grid initiative, Gurgaon is likely to see an increase in load carrying capacity from the present 11 KV system to 33 KV.
  • The city will see a transition from overhead HT and LT system to underground cabling. The cables will be laid through trenchless boring. In places, where laying underground cables will not be possible, an overhead system on mono-poles will be installed.
  • Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system will be implemented to ensure remote identification, isolation and back feeding of a faulty portion
  • Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) will be implemented to help in peak load management, outage management and elimination of manual process of collection of readings leading to loss of manpower and billing errors.
  • Remote Terminal Units (RTUs) and Ring Main Units (RMUs) will be installed on different sections for prompt supply restoration.
  • Software applications such as Outage management system, Peak Load Management System and Demand Side Management will be integrated with SCADA and AMI.
Progress of Smart Grid project so far

The project, which will be jointly piloted by the State and Union governments, didn’t see much development on the ground so far. The Power Grid Corporation of India Limited has reportedly floated the tender. The project is expected to be completed in 18 months from date of the contract is awarded. According to the plan, the power distribution network will be expanded and upgraded to meet rising demand and integrate various power sources. Moreover, cabling will be moved underground.

Extent of the project

The Haryana power department has proposed to break the Smart Grid project into three phases with the first phase covering the city’s most high-consumption stretch, Sector 1-57. It will cover DLF, Sohna Road, South City, Maruti, IDC, Qadipur and New Colony. Sector 58-115, where small constructions are coming up, will be covered under the second phase. In the third phase, the Industrial Model Township Manesar area will be covered.

Pollution tethered to power crisis

Currently, Gurgaon needs around 135 lakh units (13.5 MW) of power per day. Haryana only manages to provide 102.74 lakh units (10.27 MW) by sourcing it from Hisar, Khedar, Panipat and Yamuna Nagar, power plants. This is because Gurgaon doesn’t have any power plant of its own. So, how is the deficit met? People resort to diesel generators.

Regular power cuts for hours had prompted widespread use of polluting diesel generators. The people might be meeting the power deficit through these generators but at the cost of environment. Moreover, they have to shell out hefty amount for the service. The city consumes around 350,000 litres of diesel every hour when there’s a power cut, according to a report published in India’s Real Estate Forum.

Cyber Security of Smart Grids

An integral component of the ambitious flagship programme of the Indian Government- Digital India, which paves way for a digital data avalanche in the country, is a well-designed digital infrastructure ensuring high connectivity and integration of services, the potential areas being smart cities, smart homes, smart energy and smart grids, to list a few. Likewise, the 100 Smart Cities Mission envisions changing the face of urbanization in India, to manage the exponential growth of population in the cities by creating smart cities with ICT driven solutions, along with big data analytics. Smart grid technologies are key for both these schemes.

Smart grid is a promising power delivery infrastructure integrated with communication and information technologies which enables monitoring, prediction and management of energy usages. Establishment of smart grids becomes highly important for the Indian economy, as the present grid losses are one of the highest in the world at upto 50% and costing India upto 1.5% of its GDP. India operates one of the largest synchronous grids in the world – covering an area of over 3 million sq km, 260 GW capacity and over 200 million customers with the estimated demand of India increasing 4 times by the year 2032.

In the year 2013, the Ministry of Power (MoP), in consultation with India Smart Grid Forum and India Smart Grid Task Force released a smart grid vision and roadmap for India, a key policy document aligned to MoP’s overarching objectives of “Access, Availability and Affordability of Power for All”. It lays plans for a framework to address cyber security concerns in smart grids as well. To achieve goals envisaged in the roadmap, the Government of India established the National Smart Grid Mission in the year 2015 for planning, monitoring and implementation of policies and programs related to Smart Grid activities.

A number of smart grid projects have been introduced, and are currently underway. KEPCO in Kerala has established smart meter/intelligent power transmission and distribution equipment system in the year 2011 and the smart grid operations focus on peak reduction, load standardization, reduction in power transmission/distribution loss, response to new/renewable energy and reduction in black-out time. Gujarat was introduced to India’s first modernized electrical grid in the year 2014, to study consumer behaviour of electricity usage and propose a tariff structure based on usage and load on the power utility by installing new meters embedded with SIM card to monitor the data. The Bangalore Electricity Supply Company Ltd. (BESCOM) project in Bangalore envisaged the Smart Grid Pilot Project for integration of renewable and distributed energy resources into the grid, which is vital to meet growing electricity demands of the country, curb power losses, and enhance accessibility to quality power.

Cybersecurity challenges

At the same time, the introduction of a smart grid brings with it certain security risks and concerns, particularly to a nation’s cyber security. Increased interconnection and integration may render the grids vulnerable to cyber threats, putting stored data and computers at great risk.With sufficient cyber security measures, policies and framework in place, a Smart Grid can be made more efficient, reliable and secure as failure to address these problems will hinder the modernization of the existing power system. Smart Grids, comprising of numerous communication, intelligent, monitoring and electrical elements employed in power grid, have a greater exposure to cyber-attacks that can potentially disrupt power supply in a city.

Cyber security and data privacy are some of the key challenges for smart grids in India, as establishment of digital electricity infrastructure entails the challenge of communication security and data management. Digital network and systems are highly prone to malicious attacks from hackers which can lead to misutilisation of consumers’ data, making cyber security the key issue to be addressed. Vulnerabilities allow an attacker to break a system, corrupt user privacy, acquire unauthorized access to control the software, and modify load conditions to destabilize the grid. Hackers or attackers, who compromise a smart meter can immediately alter their energy costs or change generated energy meter readings to monetize it by help of remote PCs. Also, inserting false information could mislead the electric utility into making incorrect decisions about the local usage and capacity.

Initiatives in India

As cybersecurity is critical for Digital India and the Smart City Concept note highlights a smart grid to be resilient to cyber attacks, a National Cyber Coordination Centre is being established by the Indian Government. Also, National Cyber Safety and Security Standards has been started with a vision to safeguard the nation from the current threats in the cyberspace, undertaking research to understand the nature of cyber threats and Cyber Crimes by facilitating a common platform where experts shall provide an effective solution for the complex and alarming problems in the society towards cyber security domain. Innovative strategies and compliance procedures are being developed to curb the increasing complexity of the Global Cyber Threats faced by countries at large.

The National Cyber Security Policy 2013 was released with an umbrella framework for providing guidance for actions related to security of cyberspace, by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY). The Working Group on Information Technology established under the Planning Commission has also published a 12 year plan on IT development in India with a road map for cyber security, stating six key priority and focus areas for cyber security including:Enabling Legal Framework ; Security Policy, Compliance and Assurance; Security R&D; Security Incident – Early Warning and Response ; Security awareness, skill development and training, and Collaboration.

In case of Bangalore, to ensure smooth implementation of BESCOM’s vision, the company realised the need to put a cyber-security system in place to protect the smart grid installations in Bangalore city. To ensure security, BESCOM has come out with a separate IT security policy and dedicated trained IT cadre to safeguard its data and servers, becoming one of the few Discoms in India to take such measures for safeguarding the servers and data network from cyber crimes and threats.

Way forward

An electric system like Smart grids has enormous and far-reaching economic and social benefits. However, increased interconnection and integration tends to introduce cyber-vulnerabilities into the grid. With the evolution of cyber threats/attacks over time, it can be said that there are a lot of challenges for implementing cyber security in Indian smart grid. Considering importance of secure smart grid networks for flagship projects in India, the existing regulatory framework does not seem to adequately take into consideration the cyber security implications.

In light of this, the government must aim to develop and adopt high level cybersecurity policy to withstand cyber-attacks. Also, India must focus on skills development in this domain and have a capable workforce to achieve the targets set by Indian Government. The country must look up to develop an overall intelligence framework that brings together industry, governments and individuals with specific capabilities for this purpose.

As the concept of smart grids is still evolving in India, professional intervention from various domains has pushed for adoption and development of standard process and products. Many international standard setting organisations like IEC, IEEE, NIST, CENELEC are engaged in standardization activities of Smart Grids and in India, the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has been rolling out several varieties of standards targeting various technologies. Therefore, BIS must develop standards taking into account the security challenges in the cyberspace as well.

Apart from policy and regulatory measure, the system on which the smart grids are built and networked must be made architecturally strong and secure. One of the areas where due attention is required is making the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) secure, a system that operates with coded signals to provide control of remote equipment and is entirely based on computer systems and network. Numerous systems also employ the Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) to secure the Smart Grids and address the security challenges by enabling identification, verification, validation and authentication of connected meters for network access. This can be leveraged for securing data integrity, revenue streams and service continuity. The key vulnerable areas prone to cyber attacks on information transmission are network information, data integrity and privacy of information. The information transmission networks must be well-designed as the network unavailability may result in the loss of real-time monitoring of critical smart grid infrastructures and power system disasters.

Addressing these fast growing challenges and cyber security needs of the country by adopting suitable regulatory, policy and architectural steps would help achieve the objectives of Digital India and Smart Cities enabling “Access, Availability and Affordability for All”.

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