Power utilities must gear up for host of challenges in store
With ever-increasing digitisation of society and recent thrust on e-mobility, the power system’s responsibility has increased manifold. In order to cope up with the spurt in power demand triggered by modern-day living, utilities need to integrate their systems with technological advancement based on IoT, AI and various other smart devices available in the market.
Power distribution companies (Discoms) play a crucial role in delivering electricity across the country and making it available to every home, office and workplace. Each Discoms assigned a certain specified area in which it is required to provide the electricity at a limited budget. A humongous job, no doubt!
In present times, technological advancements like, Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and smart devices with high performance and better efficiency are readily available in the market. These devices have the capability of not only saving the consumer’s money but also detecting electricity theft, if any.
The digitisation of the community (e.g., smart phones, tablets, and social networking) has increased consumer’s reliance on electricity much more and reduced his tolerance for even short outages.
- With various schemes and incentives being offered to potential EV buyers, the charging infrastructure will be increasingly loaded. That will lead to an unpredictable surge in power demand.
- Discoms need to install latest smart devices which can instantly detect faults, inform the utility on real-time basis and minimise the restoration time significantly.
- Most Discoms in the country have an aging workforce. A shortage of qualified workers can be predicted in the near future when the power demand exceeds supply.
Given the scenario, power outages pose large financial impact on society, ranging from residential to small businesses, and large corporations. The digitisation of the community (e.g., smart phones, tablets, and social networking) has increased consumer’s reliance on electricity much more and reduced his tolerance for even short outages. That, in turn, has increased pressure on power utilities to enhance resilience of their system.
It is all the more pertinent because in the near future, power sector is set to face a host of issues. Some of these are explained below:
- Old Infrastructure: The grid system has an age-old infrastructure, which is aging rapidly and needs to be upgraded with evolving technology. Smart devices based on IoT and AI need to be integrated with the grid.
- Surge in demand: With various schemes and incentives being offered to potential EV buyers, the charging infrastructure will be increasingly loaded. That will lead to an unpredictable surge in power demand in the coming years. The Discoms need to be ready to cope up with such demand and work more efficiently.
- Norm-compliance: Power utilities need to be compliant with latest standards set by various governing bodies in the sector. Non-compliance may lead to hefty fines and punitive actions against the Discoms.
- Asset record management: With the increase in power demand, new infrastructure needs to be built to support the electricity distribution. New poles, smart meters and various smart devices need to be integrated in the grid. A proper up-to-date record of these assets needs to be maintained.
- Power outages: Downtime of electricity in an area, due to whatever, fault can damage the reputation of the Discom among the public. Therefore, they need to install latest smart devices which can instantly detect faults, inform the utility on real-time basis and minimise the restoration time
- Natural disaster: The preparedness for a natural disaster should be one of the first impulses. Installing smart systems that can predict weather patterns and act accordingly, and speedily, is required. Critical locations in the service area need to be identified by the utility in advance.
- Customer awareness: Customers are often overcharged for electricity by builders of society or by landlords, defaming the Discom invariably. Being constantly in touch with consumers and informing them about electricity rates is crucial, therefore. If and when there is a change in tariff, an SMS or an e-mail must be sent to every consumer informing them about the rate revision.
- Qualified professionals: Most Discoms in the country have an aging workforce. A shortage of qualified workers can be predicted in the near future when the power demand exceeds supply. To handle such a situation, professionals with proper training and field experience will be required. The Government needs to train and maintain a young workforce that can not only handle pressure situations but also work with the most advanced smart devices based on IoT and AI.
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