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.
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.
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.
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 experienced, independent journalist, editor and researcher, Andrew has crisscrossed the globe while reporting on sustainability, corporate social responsibility, social and environmental entrepreneurship, renewable energy, energy efficiency and clean technology. He studied geology at CU, Boulder, has an MBA in finance from Pace University, and completed a certificate program in international governance for biodiversity at UN University in Japan.