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Smart Grid International: India’s Grid Renaissance Starting in Earnest

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India’s electric utilities are at the threshold of a major transformation. Its Power Ministry has rolled out a smart grid vision and roadmap for India. The India Smart Grid Forum, a public-private partnership with the Ministry of Power, and the India Smart Grid Task Force have been established. And the country’s first smart grid pilot has been deemed a success after roughly a year in operation in Puducherry. Another 13 pilots are underway as well.

Power Grid Corporation of India and 57 other service providers participated in the pilot, which included 1,400 smart meters. Now PowerGrid is ready to tender for smart energy meters to be installed in an additional 87,000 Puducherry homes for the next phase of the pilot.

Meanwhile, companies such as IBM, which have been plowing the ground for years, may finally see crops coming in. Jeby Cherian, Vice-President and Managing Partner, Global Business Services, IBM India told the Hindu Business Line that “India recognises the benefits of a smarter planet, the power of the smart grid and its impact on people and the economy.”

In one sense, says Cherian, India may not have a choice. “In India, the long-standing electric and utility business models are rapidly becoming outdated due to new technologies, policy changes and more demanding consumers.”

Although India has significant challenges, those challenges also represent opportunities for quick payback from smart grid installations. Aggregate technical and commercial losses due to transmission losses and energy theft are estimated at about 26%. Imagine the economic advantage India could reap just by “plugging the leaks,” says Cherian. “This absolutely outweighs the size of the necessary investments.”

“To succeed, India must develop fresh business models, infrastructure, rules and standards to facilitate energy generation and delivery enabled by new technologies.”

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