Smart Grid – Pilot Project Progress

A report on progress being made towards implementation of smart grid pilot projects in the country – as on July 2018…

The primary goal of India is electrification of all households; provide adequate power for agriculture sector and 24×7 availability of power to every citizen by 2019. No doubt, the country is all geared up in deploying new types of devices and ICT infrastructure, adopting new monitoring, control and energy management tools, and aiming at fast deployment of smart grid concepts at distribution as well as transmission level.

The vision of India on smart grids is to “Transform the Indian power sector into a secure, adaptive, sustainable and digitally enabled ecosystem that provides reliable and quality energy for all with active participation of stakeholders”.

However, there are several challenges facing the implementation of the smart grid systems. The main challenges that policy makers face are high capital costs and benefit constraints within the same cost to the consumer as seen by the regulator.

The Journey

Realizing the growing importance of Smart Grid technologies in the Indian power sector, the Ministry of Power (MoP) had taken early steps in 2010 by constituting

  • India Smart Grid Forum: A non-profit voluntary consortium of public and private stakeholders with prime objective of accelerating development of Smart Grid technologies in Indian Power Sector.
  • India Smart Grid Task Force: An inter-ministerial group under MoP to provide policy direction to smart grid initiatives in the country.

In 2012, eleven smart grid and one smart city pilots were sanctioned, with nearly 50 per cent funding support from the MoP, to test various Smart Grid technologies. In addition to this there were several additional initiatives that various entities undertook – working in their domain for Smart Grid support and implementation in India such as CEA, BIS, CPRI, BEE, etc.

The next milestone came in March 2015, when Ministry of Power, Government of India, established National Smart Grid Mission (NSGM) to plan and monitor the implementation of policies and programs related to the smart grid activities in India. It brought together all smart grid-related activities in India under its ambit. Under the NSGM, four new projects were approved in 2016 to be implemented by state utilities with 30 per cent financial support from the central government. These projects are in the initial stages of development. The NSGM is also coordinating the development of smart grids under the Smart Cities Mission.

NSGM promotes deployment of Smart Grid technologies like Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), substation renovation and modernization with deployment of Gas Insulated Substations (GIS) wherever economically feasible and Distributed Generation in the form of Rooftop Solar PVs, real-time monitoring and control of Distribution Transformers, creation of Electrical Vehicle (EV) charging Infrastructure for supporting proliferation of EVs, development of medium sized Micro-grids and provision of power quality improvement measures.

Pilot Projects Progress

To understand and test various Smart Grid technologies, MoP sanctioned pilot projects at a total cost of Rs 4.8 billion – that are to be implemented across states of Assam, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Karnataka, Punjab, Telangana, Tripura, Puducherry, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. All projects are being partially funded by the MoP, except the Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitaran Nigam Limited (UHBVNL) project, which was funded by the Japan-based New Energy and Industry Technology Development Organisation (NEDO).

Meanwhile, projects under the NSGM are under implementation in Sub-division 5 (Chandigarh), Congress Nagar (Maharashtra) and Amravati (Maharashtra) at a cumulative investment of Rs 2.6 billion, of which 30 per cent will come from the government. At present, bids are being awarded under most of the projects for various components such as AMI, SCADA, distributed generation, electric vehicles and cyber security.

Completed Pilots

As of July 2018, the completed projects include three pilot projects along with and one smart city pilot project, while the others are at various stages of implementation. On 25th of January 2018, UHBVNL inaugurated its smart grid technology demonstration project in Panipat covering 11,000 consumers. The execution of the project was undertaken by NEDO. In addition, the HPSEB’s project in the Kala Amb Industrial Area, covering 1,554 consumers, has also been completed.

Meanwhile, CESC’s project, covering over 21,824 consumers in Mysore, was completed in April 2018, however, due to some issues in the installed three phase CT meters, declaring Go-Live date is postponed. In addition, the smart city R&D platform at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur has been successfully completed. The project includes a smart city prototype and a platform for testing of smart distribution systems.

Advanced Stage

While, projects under advanced stages of implementation includes Assam Power Distribution Company Limited’s (APDCL) project in Paltan Bazaar; Tripura State Electricity Corporation Limited (TSECL) project in Agartala; The WBSEDCL project in Siliguri, Darjeeling.

  1. The Assam Power Distribution Company Limited’s (APDCL) project in Paltan Bazaar covering 15,938 consumers. As of July 2018, the discom has installed over 13,691 smart meters – meanwhile the data centre setup has been complete and commissioned and the Installation of Control Centre hardware equipment is completed. As of July 2018 – there are 155 DCU communicating to control centre and 6190 meters communicating to Control Centre.
  2. The Tripura State Electricity Corporation Limited (TSECL) project in Agartala, covering the largest consumer base of 42,676, has also made significant progress. As of July 2018, a total of 30839 meters have been installed and are communicating with the servers. In addition to this around 180 DCUs have been installed and commissioned successfully. Rooftop Solar net metering & billing is being integrated with AMI system. Also, the control centre hardware and software have been installed and acceptance testing of applications have completed. Billing started for one RMU section with smart meter data. Data accuracy is verified and billing of 6,700 consumers done with smart meter data.
  3. The WBSEDCL project in Siliguri, Darjeeling, in the state of West Bengal covering 5275 consumers’ base is also in its advanced stages of implementation. As of July 2018, type test for smart meters have been completed with 4900 smart meters installed and 50 DCU installed at site. Also, material for control centre setup has been received and installed at the site while 700 smart meters has been communicating with control centre.

Other notable projects include – the Puducherry Electricity Department’s (PED) project, installation of smart meters is underway with 11136 single phase and 4151 three phase smart meters installed as of July 2018. For Uttar Gujarat Vitaran Company Limited’s (UGVCL) pilot project in Sabarmati, which is expected to cover 39,422 consumers, is also progressing – 16000 meters installed at Naroda site and 55 DCUs are installed at site. In addition, Data Centre equipment procurement along with Control Centre Hardware FAT has been completed • Trial is on for MDMS-HES Integration and as of July 2018.

Way forward

The opportunities for building smart grids in India are immense at distribution as well as transmission level, as reliable electric supply is one of the key infrastructure requirements to support overall development.

The learning’s from the implementation of the smart grid pilots and the government’s push to smart metering
under various initiatives such as the Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana and the Integrated Power Development
Scheme is expected to fast-track the power sector’s transition to smart grid and will surely play a key role in
defining the trajectory of smart grid development in the power sector.


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