Micro-grids, a route to ensure 24X7 power
India – world’s largest democracy, with 65% of its population below the age of 25, a growing middle class with increasing disposable income, and a significant appetite for internet use- all these are one side of the coin. Conversely, the other side of this coin reflects an aging infrastructure, huge gap between demand and supply of electricity and lack of investment. The conversion and solution for these two into reality is greatly dependent upon India addressing the infrastructure and energy gaps, to support an expanding economy, to bring electricity to those who remain without it, to fuel the demand for greater mobility and to develop the infrastructure to meet the needs of what is soon expected to be the world’s most populous country. Both sides together represent a unique opportunity for India to surge ahead and stake its universal claim as the new world of energy.
Historically, India has accounted for almost 10% of the increase in global energy demand since 2000 and the energy demand in this period has almost doubled, pushing the country’s share in global demand up to 5.7% in 2013 from 4.4% at the beginning of the century. Unlike other developed countries of the world the biggest challenge of India is increasing the availability of electricity. Despite the fact that, in recent years Indian Power sector has witnessed a tremendous growth, the sector has still not able to meet the ever growing power demand of the country. In fact, according to last year’s reports of Central Electricity Authority India is on the verge of being a power surplus nation, however, this again has not eliminated the power shortages.
Currently, around 1.3 billion Indian people do not have access to electricity, however, another 1 billion have only unreliable and intermittent supply. This is India’s energy dilemma; on one hand it has those unmet power demands with villages yet to have access to power. While, on anther hand there is a strong commitment on the part of India to reduce its carbon footprints by bringing down the share of non-fossil fuels to 40% in its electricity basket by 2030. Managing this ‘energy utility dilemma’ will be the key to India meeting its long term goal of energy security. Therefore, the biggest challenge for Indian power sector in the next 40 years – to manage the rise in energy consumption along with reducing the carbon emissions, the sector needs to be 3X energy efficient.
To meet these electricity demands the energy sector has been witnessing a trend of switching to local renewable power and willingness of reducing the use of fossil fuels along with a progress of electrification. These trends have brought the micro-grids into the spotlight, which can almost be defined as smaller grids within the existing distribution grid. These grids have the ability to be somewhat self-sufficient in energy supply-demand under some circumstances. Under this term are controllable loads, generations that come from renewable and other disruptive technologies. With the use of microgrid the utility and its network will see reduced energy losses, improved service quality, strengthened resiliency and higher renewable penetration.
At Schneider, we believe that the Indian power sector can attack its energy challenges only through digital transformation and digitalization of the grid. This means that greater insight and visibility across the enterprise and the grid will enable decision making and operational efficiency in the field and in the enterprise. One of the possible ways to optimize the use of energy resources is by using Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure Microgrid. The microgrid management system by Schneider has two main functions; firstly, it is an on-premise solution that ensures grid stability and energy reliability in several scenarios. Secondly, it is a cloud based solution that leverages powerful analytics in order to optimize microgrid performance, in terms of sustainability, energy costs and productivity. The product automatically adapts energy mix to environmental criteria such as availability, price and weather conditions.
These measures are merely an indication of actions that need to be taken to build an interest in the sector and sustain the supply of energy demand.