Energy grids and meters set to get smart in India

31st January 2012
Energy grids and meters set to get smart in India
Freescale's smart metering solution may fuel many national solutions

India is poised to enter the small club of nations who have ‘smartened’ their energy distribution systems. The government has announced an investment of Rs 5 billion for smart grids, with 8 pilots across the country. The country needs an estimated 100 smart meters and national Smart Meter Task Force headed by Sam Pitroda is trying to come up with an affordable model costing around Rs 1500. Meanwhile metros like Bangalore have gone ahead and announced their own smart metering plans for over 7.3 million consumers. IndiaTechOnline has compiled a dossier ( with links) on India’s Smart Grid and smart metering challenge, highlighting the technological opportunity:
India’s Smart Grid policy is an emerging part of its nationwide energy policy. The policy is being jointly developed by a collaborative grouping of central and state governmental bodies and subject matter experts from industry, academia and non-governmental research and development organizations. In a country of 1.2 billion people (2010) India has one quality that sets it apart from the rest of the industrialized countries of the world and that is that one of the largest shares of total electrical loads comes from agricultural use, primarily those associated with water pumpsets usage. The absolute pumpsets load may not be unusual but in the context of low per capital total loads, it is high. One driver is that two-thirds of the population is associated with agriculture for their livelihood  

Indian government investing Rs.5 billion for smart grid pilots The eight smart grid pilots, which were announced in July 2011 by Sam Pitroda, who is the chairman of Smart Grid India Task Force and adviser to the Prime Minister, are set to be rolled out in the coming months. According to the Economic Times, the Power ministry is going to finalize these 8 projects of worth 500 crore (US $ 9.69 million) in the next 2 months. Smart Grid, which uses combination of various technologies to improve the efficiency and reliability of the grid is essential for India's sustainable growth.
The 14 Utilities, which manages the power distribution across India will submit the proposal for the 8 pilot projects. According to the officials, the selected proposals will receive funding of around 50 to 60 crore. The pilots will focus on addressing three key issues, 1) Reduction of aggregate technical and commercial (AT & C) losses, 2) Peak load management, and 3) Integration of renewable energy like wind and solar into the grid. Once started, It is expected that the pilots will be completed in 12 to 18 months. Furthermore, 50% of the total project cost will be borne by the Power Ministry and remaining 50% by the selected utilities.  

Smart Grid is the ‘energy Internet' of the future  

India needs 100 million meters Pitroda, who also heads the Indian Smart Grid Task Force, was speaking at the inaugural session of GridWeek Asia 2012 organised by Indian Electrical and Electronics Manufacturers' Association (IEEMA).
According to Pitroda, the government reckons that India needs 100 million meters and towards this end, the Smart Meter Task Force will be entrusted the task of introducing low cost meters, costing between Rs.1,000 to Rs.1,500.
"We need a 2-chip meter that can be connected through GSM technology. Basically a dumb meter that is smart enough. These low-cost meters will feed critical data into the smart grids that are considered to be the panacea for our primitive power sector," Pitroda added.  

Soon, Bangalore can check its power consumption online December 06, 2011 Bangalore: While the much-hyped Rs. 100-crore smart grid pilot project is yet to take off in the city, the Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (BESCOM) is now planning to introduce smart meters that will give consumers the option to monitor and control their power consumption online.

In 2009, BESCOM announced that it will be taking up the implementation of a smart grid pilot in the city, but the utility is still working on the details of the project. According to BESCOM sources, the smart grid will take at least three years to become operational.

Speaking to MiD DAY, Syscon Hefcom Smart Solutions Pvt Ltd, a city-based company that will be taking up the job of installing smart meters, said that the first pilot project would be in residential areas.According to these companies, the smart metering system will help reduce electricity bills by 15 to 20 per cent. "We have a consumer interface unit (CIU), which can be effectively used by the consumer to monitor each one of the appliances for power consumption ".

The CIU displays power consumed in real time. If a TV is switched on, you will get to know the additional load. Consumers become conscious of their consumption. Statistics abroad have shown that smart meters have helped consumers reduce their bills by 15 to 20 per cent," added Rangan. The smart meters will cost around Rs. 5000, however, BESCOM is planning to collect the money on the smart meters on installments over a period of two years, Manivannan added. 

Bescom to install smart prepaid meters Times of India Dec 8, 2011, BANGALORE: It may be smart, but it's going to cost you anywhere between Rs 4,000 and Rs 5,000. The smart prepaid metre proposed by Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom) - billed to give information on how much energy you consume in an hour, on a particular day or throughout the month - will be rolled out shortly. Bescom managing director P Manivannan said the plan was to start installing these meters for its 73 lakh consumers by the next financial year.
Bescom assured that the utility will find a way to make sure the consumers' monthly instalment towards prepaid meters is less than Rs 50 per month. The plan is to take twomonths advance as cost of the meter (say Rs 2,250 for each month) and the rest monthly instalments along with the recharge. But there is little clarity on who will pay for the meter - the tenant or owner -- in buildings.  
Freescale and INSIDE Secure reinvent the prepaid meter New Delhi, January 25, 2012, Freescale Semiconductor and INSIDE Secure have announced a secure prepaid utility meter reference design with near field communication (NFC) connectivity that OEMs can use to quickly and cost-effectively bring to market electricity meter products. The reference design, based on the Freescale Kinetis MK30 microcontroller (MCU), provides the first NFC-based, prepaid meter with the ability to securely reload energy credit balances.
Utilities in many countries require a sophisticated payment infrastructure to facilitate the utility payment process while preventing fraud. Secure prepaid meters, such as this reference design developed by Freescale and INSIDE Secure, address this need by adding sophisticated smart card security mechanisms that have been proven in the banking industry. Products based on this reference design are protected from fraud because they employ a VaultIC security module and NFC technology to safely load energy credits from a smart card or an NFC-enabled phone.
“The global need for prepaid metering solutions and robust security is rapidly increasing, especially in emerging markets,” said Bruno Baylac, director of Freescale's Metering, Medical and Connectivity Solutions business. “By partnering with INSIDE Secure we are not only bringing advanced security features but also innovative contactless technology, enabling the design of simple, tough mechanical meters that are virtually tamper-proof.”
The secured prepaid meter reference design was demonstrated by Freescale and INSIDE Secure during the DistribuTECH Conference & Exhibition, January 24-26, in San Antonio, Texas.
Tech Notes: Wikipedia:
The term Smart meter often refers to an electricity meter, but it can also mean a device measuring natural gas or water consumption.
Similar meters, usually referred to as interval or time-of-use meters, have existed for years, but Smart Meters usually involve real-time or near real-time sensors, power outage notification, and power quality monitoring. These additional features are more than simple automated meter reading (AMR). They are similar in many respects to Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) meters. Smart meters are also believed to be a less costly alternative to traditional interval or time-of-use meters and are intended to be used on a wide scale with all customer classes, including residential customers.[citation needed] (Interval and time-of-use meters are more of a legacy technology that historically have been installed to measure commercial and industrial customers, but typically provide no AMR functionality.)
The installed base of smart meters in Europe at the end of 2008 was about 39 million units according to analyst firm Berg Insight.[8] Globally, Pike Research found that smart meter shipments were 17.4 million units for the first quarter of 2011.[9]
Smart meters may be part of a smart grid, but alone do not constitute a smart grid.
There are also concerns regarding the health, privacy and price effects of smart meters. For example, the attorney generals of both Illinois and Connecticut have stated that they do not believe smart meters provide any benefit to consumers.[10] The pulsed microwave radiation emitted by smart meters is the source of health concern.

VIDEO:  Do see our Smart Grids video for a few days at our Tech Video slot. Feb 1 2012