Takeaways from India Smart Grid Week
Smart Grid and Microgrid business in the U.S. is in full, steady growth mode, but something very exciting is also occurring in developing countries. In India, utility and business heads alike gathered at the second annual India Smart Grid Week. These utility and business heads are focused on growing their country’s economy through infrastructure investments focused on three main areas: transportation, water, and electricity.
In the electricity area specifically, India’s Minister of Power, Piyush Goyal, with the support of Prime Minister Modi, has made several sweeping statements. These can be summarized in the following points:
- Deliver up to 30 percent renewable generation across the nation within the next few years
- Provide 24/7 electric power for all citizens within three years
- Institute 100 percent solvency for all state-run utilities within three years
- Establish Smart Meters on every business and urban home within three years
- Leverage public and private partnerships with utilities
- Reduce dependency on central generation and transmission
To support these initiatives, India established a Smart Grid mission that encourages all utilities to deploy Smart Grids and regulators while also encouraging private investment in Microgrids that are grid-friendly. At India Smart Grid Week, in New Delhi, I gave a Smart Grid tutorial, followed by a Microgrid keynote speech. The response was quite profound. Many CEOs and GMs met with me to discuss how OATI can provide the solutions outlined in Minister Goyal’s objectives.
In addition to that, a number of utility heads came up to me asking for further conversations after my tutorial. Most interest was in distribution reliability, integrating renewables, and their impact on the grid (from both wholesale and DER effects). Utilities who have installed AMI could add distribution intelligence with our webSmartEnergy portfolio. Also of great interest was the management of DER, both utility-owned and behind the meter.
I also met with Larisa Dobriansky, one of the authors of India’s Smart Grid mission regulatory and policy measures. The India regulation model was approved and is now filtering into all the states, a number of which have agreed to adopt this regulation. The most import aspect of these new regulations is the requirement that utilities cooperate with Microgrid developers. If developers build Microgrids off-grid, they are to be designed to connect to the grid if/when it arrives. For rural electrification, Microgrids should be able to network and interact with each other. Information, computers, and telecommunication will be needed to ensure good telemetry and power flows are managed.
I wrapped up my trip by traveling to OATI India in Chandigarh, where I was able to talk to more than 400 employees about Smart Grid, Microgrids, smart cities, and the OATI Smart Energy portfolio.
Overall, developing economies have been watching U.S. and E.U. Smart Grid investments and (for India, anyway) will be making the move towards high-tech utility operations with high penetration of Microgrids (both on-grid and off-grid).
In a country where one-fourth of the population, roughly 300 million people, has no access to electricity, it is exciting to see them embrace Smart Grid technology. If this technology can help eliminate energy poverty, while improving the country’s global economic production, it’s good for them—and for the world.