Tata Power, Honeywell Roll Out First-of-its-Kind Smart Grid System

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Commercial and industrial companies, as well as power utilities, are increasingly embedding intelligence in electrical networks. Comprising a wide range of connected equipment and devices, smart-grid technologies enable utilities and their customers to enhance energy efficiency, increase the reliability and resilience of power supplies, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the same time.

Smart-grid technology and systems are being deployed in developing, as well as industrially developed, countries. As has occurred with wireless telecoms, this affords developing nations the opportunity to “leapfrog” developed nations technologically, in the process charting a course toward genuinely sustainable development.

A just completed project illustrates the potential of smart-grid systems to help achieve sustainable energy and development goals set by the United Nations and other prominent multilateral organizations. On May 27, Honeywell and Tata Power Delhi Distribution (TPDDL) announced they completed installation of India’s first automated demand response (ADR) system for commercial and industrial companies. The ADR system embeds “smarts” in an electricity distribution system that spans more than 160 buildings, enabling energy consumption to be reduced during times when grid supply is low or strained.

Smart grid tech, sustainable energy and development

Automated demand response and smart-grid systems can play a large role in addressing longstanding sustainable energy and development challenges in nations such as India. Some 400 million Indians lack access to electricity. While generation and grid infrastructure investment has been sorely lacking, India relies on coal for nearly 70 percent of supply. That makes cities such as New Delhi among the worst polluted in the world, endangering human and environmental health and safety.

Led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Indian government intends to double the country’s coal production, even as Modi has launched ambitious plans to greatly expand India’s use of solar and other renewable energy resources. Smart-grid technology and systems, along with locally appropriate mixes of distributed renewable power generation, can reduce the need to mine and burn more coal and import oil while greatly expanding energy access and security.

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Electricity demand in New Delhi has nearly doubled over the past decade, Tata Power and Honeywell note. Putting Honeywell smart-grid technology and services to work, the ADR system will help avoid brownouts and blackouts that periodically affect residents and businesses across Tata Power’s New Delhi service area.

Commercial and industrial facilities account for nearly 50 percent of peak electricity demand in India. That puts great value on technology that can improve energy efficiency and intelligently adjust to grid supply-and-demand conditions.

“This is a significant initiative — one that supports our mission to build a resource-efficient, environmentally friendly electrical grid,” said Praveer Sinha, Tata Power Delhi Distribution CEO and executive director.

“We are committed to making this deployment a success, and finding new opportunities to extend ADR to other customers, thus playing a role in helping to meet Delhi’s energy needs. We believe our steps in this direction will also encourage other Indian utilities to adopt smart grid technology for efficient operations”

Automated demand-response and reducing peak power demand

By employing Honeywell’s ADR technology and services, Indian electric utilities could reduce peak electricity load at any given commercial or industrial facility by an average 15 percent, the project partners highlight. In the case of Tata Power’s ADR project in its New Delhi service area, that means the electric utility will be able to reduce peak power demand by around 11.5 megawatts.

Reducing peak and overall power demand — what’s come to be known as “negawatts” — reduces the need for costly power infrastructure, reduces emissions and helps avoid potential tragedies. Dubbed “virtual power plants,” electricity consumption across the country could be reduced an estimated 10.5 gigawatts – nearly 7 percent of nationwide peak power demand – if ADR systems such as this one were to be deployed across all buildings in India, the companies go on to highlight.

Honeywell explains how Tata Power’s ADR system works in this video posted on YouTube:

*Image credits: 1) Flickr, BDphoto1; 2) NRDC Switchboard

An independent journalist, researcher and writer, my work roams across the nexus where ecology, technology, political economy and sociology intersect and overlap. The lifelong quest for knowledge of the world and self -- not to mention gainful employment -- has led me near and far afield, from Europe, across the Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa and back home to the Americas. LinkedIn: andrew burger Google+: Andrew B Email: huginn.muggin@gmail.com