How Smart Grids Will Make a City Smarter

by June 8, 2014 0 comments

Prabhu Ramachandran-Director-WebNMS, WebNMS

Connecting machines to machines is a growing trend being impelled by the growing number of stakeholders and governments. A smart city is a connected ecosystem where multiple sectors (ranging from healthcare, transportation, utility, etc.) cooperate and exchange information within their sector and inter-sectors to achieve a resource efficient and sustainable lifestyle. Smart cities serve two main purposes: They improve the operational efficiency of various sectors in a city and two, they facilitate improved lifestyle to citizens and foster greater economic growth.

Prabhu Ramachandran-Director-WebNMS, WebNMS

Prabhu Ramachandran-Director-WebNMS, WebNMS

The key to a smart city is to realize integration of different types of networks with varied protocols, and achieve interoperability between complex M2M systems. Designing and implementing a sustainable smart infrastructure demands a highly flexible M2M framework.

Since electrical grid is the backbone of the city, it has become paramount to transform the overall electrical system and make it smarter.

Charting the Path Towards Smart Grids
Rising global energy demand, global warming, and GDP are driving government initiatives to increase energy efficiency, and leapfrog smart grid implementation. Smart grid deployments play an essential role in enhancing grid security, optimizing the energy distribution process, and improving energy efficiency for cities of the future.

At present, lack of transparency in grid results in cumberson fault identification processes, leading to great difficulty in measuring the line losses. When there is a fault in a network, the circuit breaker trips, disconnecting power supply of the entire network, and the network can be restored only after the fault has been restored. Though FPIs (Fault Passage Indicators) help identify faulty circuits, it is still intense to patrol and identify the fault indicators considering the
location of network in remote sites. In such circumstances, the need for M2M driven communicable FPIs emerges.

Distribution Network with Communicable FPIs
Communicable FPIs are realized through integration of hardware component (RTU) and software (M2M Platform) that provides remote fault indication with bi-directional communication. Remote Terminal Unit (RTU) installed on the poles communicates the fault alerts along with accurate location to a central location or concerned maintenance personnel over GSM/GPRS. A network which is â??UPâ?? for maximum time increases revenue for the distribution companies and also increases customer satisfaction.

M2M powered household appliances allows consumers to take advantage of time-based rates, by dropping energy consumption during peak hours. Consumers can talk to their electrical appliances, by remotely switching them on/off during non-peak hours, and thereby save on energy bills. It is not smart enough to collect massive amounts of data from various subsystems, but to make the best use of them by analysis and extreme information processing through “Big Data”. A smart grid coupled with Big Data can detect energy theft, trace source of energy loss, prevent outages, improve grid reliability, forecast demand, and improve speed of grid restoration.

We have realized only the tip of the M2M iceberg, for there is so much that we can truly do. In the year ahead, it is expected that there will be greater convergence between renewable energy sources, (including solar panels and wind turbines) and grid distribution. Advanced smart metering will also help customers manage consumption, and will also enable utilities to transform their service model from managing energy flows to include value-added services like time-based pricing.

Case Study

SunElectric saves Rs. 9.5 Lakhs annually after investing Rs. 48 Lakhs; reduces outages due to faults by 75% with a power grid monitoring solution
SunElectric, part of the SUN group fo companies, was facing prolonged downtime on its power grid network, due to a time consuming process of detecting faults. It needed a M2M solution to overcome this challenge, for which it installed 104 FPIs (Fault Passage Indicators). The solution has shown downtime reduction by nearly 43%, leading to savings of Rs. 5.44 Lakhs per year against an initial investment of Rs. 13 Lakhs—meaning a payback period of <3 years. The same standalone FPIs were extrapolated to communicable FPIs using WebNMS Power-Grid Monitoring solution, which further reduced outages due to faults by 75% and savings of Rs. 9.48 lakhs per year against an investment of Rs. 48 lakhs. The company has a customizable energy dashboard that features a map of the city/country where the FPIs are installed, showing the precise locations and fault alerts.

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