India’s Smart Electricity Future
India is currently watching the future bloom. In India, more than 5.5 million smart metres have been installed and more than 100 million more have been approved. By 2025–2026, it is intended to replace 250 million traditional electric metres with prepaid smart metres. To assist power distribution firms (discoms) in becoming more efficient and financially stable so they can provide customers with better services, India is supporting this project through a results-linked grant-cum-financing programme.
Points to Ponder:
- A smart metre is a piece of technology that keeps track of data like electricity usage, voltage, current, and power factor. Smart metres transmit data to electricity suppliers for system monitoring and customer billing as well as to consumers for a better understanding of consumption patterns.
- Smart metres often report periodically at brief intervals throughout the day and record energy in close to real-time. Smart metres allow for two-way communication between the central system and the metre. As opposed to automatic metre reading (AMR), this advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) provides two-way communication between the metre and the supplier.
- Cellular communications, Wi-Fi, wireless ad hoc networks over Wi-Fi, wireless mesh networks, low power long-range wireless (LoRa), Wize (high radio penetration rate, open, using the frequency 169 MHz), Zigbee (low power, low data rate wireless), and Wi-SUN (Smart Utility Networks) are examples of wireless communication technologies that are frequently used.
- By 2025–2026, India hopes to install 250 million prepaid smart metres in place of the country’s current analogue electric metres.
- Smart metres have several advantages, such as increased billing consistency, simpler bill payment, greater control over electricity spending, fewer cases of electricity theft, and enhanced local power supply.
- According to a recent survey by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), most Indians who use smart metres have already started to enjoy some of these advantages.
- Smart metres aren’t widely used in India yet because of concerns with the mobile apps used to obtain detailed electricity bills as well as a lack of user knowledge and education about their advantages.
- The essay suggests four important actions that various stakeholders might do to overcome these problems:
- A national campaign to raise awareness of smart metre benefits and encourage the use of smart metre apps should be led by the Ministry of Power.
- For users to have a seamless installation and recharge experience, Discoms (power distribution companies) must co-own the smart metering programme and collaborate closely with Advanced Metering Infrastructure Service Providers (AMISPs). Discoms must also use smart metre data for consumer engagement and revenue protection.
- To use smart metre data to its full potential and reveal its genuine value proposition, Discoms, system integrators, and technology providers should work together to develop creative and scalable data solutions.
- To enable consumers to unlock new retail markets, enable simplification and innovation in tariff design, and open the retail market to new business models and prosumers (producers, consumers, and storage users), policymakers and regulators must enhance legislation.
- A user-centric design and deployment philosophy would be essential to the success of India’s smart metering effort.
- The essay highlights the potential advantages of smart metres for India’s electricity industry overall and offers solutions for any issues that might prevent widespread adoption.