Smart Grid a new “e”
In the power industry, electrical grid is a term used for an electricity network which includes the three distinct operations, i.e., generation, transmission, distribution and utilization. Smart grids are the solution to our future energy problems and, possibly, the panacea to global warming. A smart grid is an electricity distribution network that can monitor electricity flowing within itself and, based on this self-awareness, adjust to changing conditions. It does this by automatically reconfiguring the network and/or exerting a level of control over connected demand and generation.
Pakistan is fourth biggest most populated country in Asia region and sixth biggest country in the world. Currently Pakistan has many serious problems in almost all sectors of life, but one of the most pressing is the energy problem. Looking at the energy we have shortage of power generation due to lesser installation and/or, old equipment which results in load shedding, energy losses etc. The equipment being outdated also results in lower efficiencies. One of main effects of shortage of power is load shedding. What should be done right now? Answer is simple, i.e., we should look at areas where electricity is wasted and take appropriate action to reduce corresponding losses.
Smart Grid is a step forward in the efforts taken to save electric losses and reduce the burden of load on the national grid. This includes generating our own power through renewable energy sources by synchronizing with the national grid. Smart Grid also includes the automatic monitoring and control and gives information about the load status, under voltage / over voltage through SMS. In Smart Grid the reverse metering technique is also used by which the surplus power generated through the means of renewable energy sources is supplied to the national grid and thereby compensating the electricity bill. The idea in this project is to inform the owner about the load specifications that shows how much a user can save electricity with the new technology.
Smart Grid is the new ‘e’. A decade ago, a small ‘e’ in front of something showed that it was new and exciting like email, eCommerce, ehealth and eVoting. Now days we see smart phones, smart cities, smart transport and even smart water. Smart grid is all about automation by doing some intelligent techniques, bill compensation with the help of reverse metering technique and to build an interruption free net by using different sources for power generation
Currently working Grid system in Pakistan has lot of disadvantages as compared to Smart Grid Technology. Currently existing Grid systems have lot of problems regarding communication to the consumers in such a way that they could manage their load according to their requirements as well as their wanting. Existing Grid system does not also provide an effective and simple way of calculation of monthly billing as compared to effective billing system provided by Smart Grid System.
Currently working Grid system is a unidirectional power system i.e. power could only be provided from Grid to consumer through a single way and there is no feedback path in our existing Grid system. Due to above discussed limitations currently working Grid system does not provide reliability in case of any unusual conditions or in case of occurrence of any fault in line during transmission of electrical power i.e. may be breakdown of conductor due to any reason. Then the affected area will remain in blackout condition for all the time till the fault is cleared i.e. conductor in joined again. But for organizational institutes such as hospitals etc electricity is required 24 hours regularly so in existing grid system it is not possible unless an alternative is provided.
Currently working Grid system also does not provide safety in case of over voltage and under voltage conditions because consumers are not alarmed through any communication system so as a result we witness large number of complaints about damaged applicants either due to over voltage or under voltage in our society.
Grid system in countries like Pakistan where billing system is controversial and does not effectively satisfy consumers i.e. in Pakistan, we regularly hear the news about extra billing. Consumer may have a total load of few watts but the bill that consumer may receive from Electric Supply Company can be in order of thousands. This raises a hefty controversy.
The main limitation that causes the drawback of smart grid is that for the conversion of currently existing simple Grid system into Smart Grid system would demand lot of changes in the present system, which would be a costly affair and also, it may have some inherent difficulties. Smart Grid technology also refers to a two way traffic line system in which reverse metering is also demanded. For reverse metering and the measuring of the total units consumed and total units delivered from consumers end are measured by energy meters which would also be a costly method. In other words we can say that smart grid system is costly initially and the existing system would have to be changed completely.
Main objection in usage of smart grid is that every consumer does not use renewable sources i.e. solar and wind, enabling them to sell back to Grid i.e. when the excess energy is produced. However, as time goes by the energy produced from renewable sources is getting cheaper by the day. According to some it has already become feasible for individual users to produce enough for their own use and have some left over which can be sold to the Grid, using reverse metering. In light of the same the government should encourage this production of electricity from renewable sources. This would be a good solution to our energy problem, as it exists today.
GSM technology is not available in all areas if we specifically talk about countries like Pakistan, India etc. In some areas till now the facility of signal communication has not been introduced yet like the backward areas in country which are still under development line. There is need to promote signal communication technologies in those areas so that most of population could be beneficiary from smart grid and GSM technology.
Least but not the last problem that causes the drawback in using the smart Grid technology along with GSM technology is that size of our system, as the eGrid system will be larger as compared to simple Grid system so required large area for its installment. However, in the view of long term benefits it will be a good avenue to pursue.
By Tabish Abbasi