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Hi-tech plan to check power distribution losses

Posted Jan 07 2009 4:31pm

Bangalore: Information technology (IT) major Infosys Technologies has drawn a road map to transform power distribution and check losses across India.

The hi-tech plan, commissioned by the Power Ministry, has been drafted in association with the Bangalore-based Centre for Study of Science, Technology and Policy (CSTEP) to bring about radical changes in power distribution for rapid economic growth and meeting societal needs, reports IANS.

It would focus on checking aggregate technical and commercial (AT&C) losses in electricity distribution.

Presenting the action plan in the form of a report "Technology: Enabling Transformation of Power Distribution" here on Thursday, Infosys Vice-chairman Nandan Nilekani said that India was reeling under an energy crisis due to a whopping 33 per cent AT&C losses.

"We need to transform power distribution by adopting convergence technologies and developing a smart card. Though generation and transmission have improved in economic terms, it is the distribution system that needs to be fixed for optimising energy use," Nilekani said.

According to the report, ageing and poorly maintained assets, unreliable and overloaded systems, low demand side management, lack of skilled resources and training and absence of corporate governance in distribution companies (discoms) are the reasons for high AT&C losses.

Advocating a technology trajectory for energy distribution, Nilekani said that advanced metering was imperative to trim AT&C losses, which are untenable.

"IT, communication and automation to measure and control the flow of power on a real-time basis are key to manage distribution and check losses. Similarly, a smart grid to intelligently manage outages, load and congestion and shortfall has to become pervasive to use energy efficiently and optimally," Nilekani pointed out.

The report makes consumers (end-users) an integral part of the system to bring about the transformation through transparency and accountability on all sides.

"To achieve the trajectory, inter-operability among systems is critical to power distribution as it has been in mobile communications, banking and other networked sectors. Setting standards for the sector is as important as transforming the distribution network," Nilekani noted.

Referring to the challenges and opportunities in the energy sector, he said the country would require about 800 giga watts (GW) of electricity by 2030 as against the present installed capacity of 140 GW.

The report pointed out that scaling investments to generate more power and increasing the per capita consumption to over 1,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) from the present 750 kWh are challenges to be addressed, while the average global consumption remains far ahead at 2,600 kWh.

Power generation will need to grow four-five times from the current capacity to sustain high economic growth, the report said.

Climate change and global warming underscored the need to integrate a large number of distributed and intermittent low-carbon power generators that can harness solar and wind energy, it added.

The report reiterates that while technology is a powerful enabler, it is not a solution by itself. If business needs determine the technology, trained and equipped people are equally critical to the successful management of any such system.

The report was presented to Minister of State for Commerce and Power Jairam Ramesh and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, besides experts in the power sector.
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