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Offering Smart Grid Technology for India

Heman Joshi ,  Saturday, December 29, 2012, 12:03 Hrs  [IST]

heman_joshiIndia needs to ensure that every watt of energy reaching a household or industry be used efficiently.

As per US Energy Information Administration (EIA), India is the fourth largest consumer of electricity after United States, China and Russia. In spite of being the fifth largest producer of electricity, India's annual per capita consumption is among the lowest. 35 per cent of Indian population still does not have access to electricity. For 2011-12, India's Central Electricity Authority (CEA) anticipated that there would be a deficit of 10.3 per cent in base load energy and 12.9 per cent during the peak load.

The availability of energy is a critical parameter which influences the economic growth of any nation and quality of life of its citizens. In the coming years, the demand for energy will rise significantly in India. The two major reasons are - firstly, manufacturing sector is likely to grow at higher rate and secondly, the growing domestic demand. As per a report from CEA, the expected transmission and distribution losses in India in fiscal year 2011 was around 24 per cent.

Considering the facts that India still does not have adequate power generation capacity and T&D losses are so high, we need to ensure that every watt of energy reaching a household or industry should be used efficiently. Smart Grid is one of the solutions, that helps overcome these energy constraints to a significant extent. The worldwide electric-power infrastructure is a set of interconnected facilities for power generation, transmission and distribution called 'Electric Grid'. As the demand for energy accelerates, the outdated infrastructure is being modernized by adding intelligence, communications and decentralized control and this complex network is termed as - 'Smart Grid'. The philosophy behind designing a smart grid is to device means of matching the generated and the consumed energy. The smart grid makes use of technology to improve fault detection and self healing features in the network.

Smart Grid Technology defines the possibility of improving methods of power generation, transmission and distribution. For example, Smart Grid Technology, devices ways of adding generated power from renewable resources to the power available from electric grid. In the current scenario the electricity supply which we get from distribution stations flows in a single direction. In the smart grid network, this flow of energy would be bi-directional. The Indian government is taking advantage of this fact and encouraging consumers to generate energy from renewable sources and feed the energy back to the grid. In this way, this technology helps in generation of additional energy which eventually reduces the gap of demand and supply.

Texas instrumentsMany state governments are also trying to popularise solar based roof top power plants. In Kerala, the Agency of Non Conventional Energy and Rural Technology (ANERT) has received multiple applications for setting up roof top solar power plants of 1KW capacity. Gujarat is already in second phase of executing solar roof top projects and is feeding the power back to the grid. Initially the launch was done with 2.5- mw projects in Gandhinagar. The second phase of this project is planned to target five other cities.

Texas Instruments (TI) offers a reference design for solar grid tied inverters based on C2000 series of microcontrollers (MCU) for its customers. Solar grid tied inverter is an essential and most critical component of the solar roof top project. TI understands that a reference solution alone cannot take inverter manufacturers to production stage for such complex products. TI has dedicated teams across various cities in India to support its customers during the development phase up to the stage where the product becomes ready for production. TI has an extensive support network in India with 11 offices across Tier I and II cities in India that enables us to be present at times when our customers need us. Being very close to our customers is critical for us to best address their needs. TI India is uniquely positioned to address the Indian manufacturers' needs with the industry's broadest and most diverse product portfolio.

TI is globally accepted as a smart grid systems partner for secure, economical and future-proof grid infrastructure, smart meter and home or building automation solutions. TI realizes the importance of implementation of smart grid technology, so much that it has formed a dedicated business vertical for this market. This group focuses only on developing products which would be used in designing of equipments which are the constituents of Smart Grid. TI provides solutions for the electrical substations and power distribution systems. The grid infrastructure platform combines the voltage & current sensing, signal processing and communications. The end equipment can be data concentrators, substation automation, and power monitoring systems for decentralized control.

There are millions of electricity meters installed across our country. TI's MSP430TM MCU helps design these meters, which consumes ultra low power and are highly accurate to calculate the units consumed at a household or at business. The above features helps state electricity boards to prevent electricity theft and get accurate calculation of their revenue.

The usual process of collecting the consumption data from the installed meters is manual. Smart grid technology specifies various methods to accumulate data, from the electricity meters installed in the field. Considering the huge base of electricity meters installed, it is important that meters consume very little power for its operation and communication. Using LPRF is a popular choice among the utilities for data exchange between the smart meters and data concentrators. TI offers both radio transceivers and SoC for communicating over sub-1GHz band or 2.4GHz band.

An alternative mode of communication can be Power line communication (PLC). PLC leverages the existing power line infrastructure and provides cost-effective approach for introducing intelligent monitoring and control to many industrial applications. It makes PLC one of the leading enabling technologies for Smart Grid applications ranging from smart metering, lighting control, solar, plug-in electrical vehicle home and building automation of heat and air conditioning, and security.

Furthermore, TI offers an integrated, high performance and cost effective solution which can be realized when combining the AFE031, a highly integrated PLC Analog Front End with the C20000TM. The AFE031 integrates the transmit filter, power amplifier, receive filter and PGA in a programmable integrated circuit designed just for PLC.

TI has wide range of MCU and DSP devices which are suitable for low end to high end data concentrators respectively. Stellaris series of MCU based on ARM core, from TI is a popular choice among the manufacturers of low end data concentrators. In North America and Europe, TI's OMAPTM & Sitara series of DSP are widely used for the high end data concentrators.

Now days, we have multi functioning smart meters, which can measure, display, communicate the consumption data. These smart meters can communicate with the home appliances and can even control these appliances. It is also possible to monitor and control the appliances at your home, even if you are miles away. Such innovative ways can be extremely useful to save precious units being consumed.

Smart Grid Technology is commonly perceived as a bridge for the gap between the energy generated and consumed. However, if this technology is strategically implemented, it will increase efficiency in production, transport and consumption, improve reliability and economic operation, integration of renewable power into the grid and increase economic efficiency through electricity markets and consumer application.

TI India is uniquely positioned to address the Indian manufacturers' needs with the industry's broadest and most diverse product portfolio. This, together with an extensive support network in India, TI has Sales and Applications offices across Tier I and II cities in India, which enables us to be present at times when our customers need us. Being very close to our customers is critical for us to best address their needs.

(Heman Joshi is Technical Sales Engineer, Texas Instruments (India) Pvt Ltd)
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