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Smart Energy: An Overview

Surjit Lahiri ,  Thursday, February 07, 2013, 17:41 Hrs  [IST]

Surjit Lahiri-Surjit Lahiri is Vice President Projects, Mindteck (India) Ltd

The Smart Grid will allow utilities to move electricity around the system as efficiently and economically as possible.

The basic concept of Smart Grid is to add monitoring, analysis, control, and communication capabilities to the national electrical delivery system to maximize the throughput of the system while reducing the energy consumption. Smart Grid will allow utilities to move electricity around the system as efficiently and economically as possible.

The global Smart Grid market has experienced double-digit growth rates over the last five years and is expected to continue its growth momentum. In China, what began as an effort to supply electricity to most of the country's population gradually has shifted focus toward grid modernization and efficiency. In Europe, with the EU directive requiring smart metering technology by 2020, European utility providers are quickly assessing Smart Grid and metering options. There is a demand for enhancing energy efficiency and managing demand side management, as well as integrated renewable and variable energy sources in the US and India. The economy in India is growing at a very fast rate with an average annual growth rate of over 7 per cent for last couple of years. We also find that annually the Indian population is growing at the rate of 1.4 per cent and it is predicted that India will be the largest populated country by 2050. Even though electricity is available to 80 per cent of the population, it is irregular and insufficient and the power crisis has become a chronic problem with an average 17 power-cuts per month to the manufacturing sector alone, which depicts that it is not at all sufficient for our present needs and requires enormous investment to meet the existing and future needs of the growing population and economy.

The Smart Grid platform will create a local and global ecosystem of Smart Grid service providers, providing products and services at different layers to energy producers and consumers alike – commoditizing and democratizing the tools for creating and consuming energy optimally. Energy consumers in Smart Grid ecosystem will be generating energy on their own and freely trading it based on demand and supply; they will be smartly consuming optimum energy at the right time for the right price using smart appliances. Smart Grid implementation benefits end consumers through improved national security, better environmental conditions and economic growth.

The “smartening” of the electricity system is an evolutionary process, not a one-time event. Implementing Smart Grid technologies in rural areas currently have economic and technological challenges which are yet to be overcome. But opportunities for renewable energy generation and integration via microgrids are immense and have an enormous potential for income generation and development of new economy for the rural community at large. Government incentives would be a key catalyst in augmenting the growth and adoption of Smart Grid technologies.

Smart Grid technologies provide omni-directional communications between producer and consumer+application related IT. Spurred by growing energy demand, increasing costs and climate change Smart Grid initiatives are gaining traction across the country. And essentially there is a need for utilities to manage energy load control and demand response to reduce the demand for new power plants which is enabling homeowners and utility companies to work together for reducing energy consumption, save money and better grid management.

The key enabling technology for energy management products in the home is ZigBee, an ultra low-power IEEE 802.15.4-based wireless networking standard that has emerged as the key to robust, reliable and secure HAN deployments.

ZigBee has been developed to meet the growing demand for capable wireless networking between numerous lowpower devices. ZigBee is being used for next generation automated manufacturing, with small transmitters in every device on the floor, allowing for communication between devices to a central computer. This new level of communication permits finely-tuned remote monitoring and manipulation. In the consumer market ZigBee is being explored for everything from linking lowpower household devices such as smoke alarms to a central housing control unit, to centralized light controls.

Due to its low power output, ZigBee devices can sustain themselves on a small battery for many months, or even years, making them ideal for installand- forget purposes, such as most small household systems. In comparison to other home networking technologies ZigBee technology can be easily incorporated into a wide range of devices. ZigBee is highly scalable, capable of supporting thousands of devices in a single network, and is extremely tolerant to interference from other radio devices, including Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Mindteck’s Smart Energy Vertical is focused on building and deploying scalable go-to-market Smart Grid solutions targeted at energy management and energy efficiency improvement.
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