India is the world’s third largest producer and fourth largest consumer of electricity. Despite this the country is being mostly served with electromechanical meters or digital meters with optical port being the only communication interface. Smart metering projects are scattered across the country and are mostly based on P2P GPRS, generating high monthly operational costs or proprietary RF solutions, which create vendor dependence for the DISCOs. Therefore India’s smart metering vending potential seems like a vast platform for realization and exceedingly influential electricity market is confidently introducing technologies to satisfy the industrial needs of the major utility companies. Most of them have special requirements that have to be met and criteria that have to be matched.
Due to some PLC pilot project illusions that our competitors have created over the last few years and then dreadfully damaged, India found itself slightly demotivated. The PLC testing failures have significantly ruined the upcoming plans and energy regulator, as well as the other market players, has worked out a skeptic attitude towards this type of smart grid technology.
ADD GRUP having one of the most reliable PLC smart metering solutions based on ADDAX Technology definitely considered it as a challenging market creating an opportunity to provide reliable PLC technology, demonstrate the transparency of protocol and interoperability which allow not to become dependent of any vendor, as well anti-tempering and fraud detection features of the solution and load management functionality.
Being a significant part of Tata Steel – the company that welcomes all the innovations and new technologies, JUSCO (Jamshedpur Utilities and Service Company LTD), the leading infrastructure urban service provider in the country eagerly accepted the proposal for the pilot as matching JUSCO’s plans to implement metering solutions with a wider functionality (those that could be read and controlled remotely as well as set by event and upon demand
Both companies pointed out the main goals of the PLC installation among which were: controlling and monitoring of load drawn by consumers, online disconnection and reconnection, reduced time of meter reading, no human intervention in manual meter reading, failure/tamper identification of the metering device, reduced cost of the bills due to all electricity savings. Also among the objectives of the meeting both sides could note: creating an infrastructure for automated meter reading and control for low end consumers; end to end transparency in meter reading; optimal use of existing power system infrastructure.
Within the framework of the pilot project 3 TP’s were selected. A few hundreds of smart meters were deployed. After a detailed analysis ADD GRUP insisted on the PRIME PLC smart meter technology as the most proven and reliable in a number of networks in different countries. From functionality perspective the following was included in the smart metering solution: load management and control, manageable load profiles, antifraud features, choice of different tariffs depending on the day or night time, data exchange upon settings request and interoperability. The basis for development and implementation of the new possibilities for future network improvements with the help of PRIME meters manufactured by ADD GRUP showed a significantly improved balance, filling the gap between the supplied energy index and the energy used by the consumers. Despite the fact that the energy system in India hasn’t been renewed for quite a while data collection’s performance is currently at 99%.
In a country with the population over a billion of people the problem of electricity fraud reaching around 40% in average is an essential matter. The capabilities of the meter allowing to detect fraud attempts before they are committed have been well appreciated and practical use of this instrument can benefit the other parts of India suffering from electricity losses.
Anti-tampering functionality, close to real-time balance metering, load management, power quality control features should be treated as essential for improvement of electricity sector, grid stability, DISCO’s financial health and customer service. All of the functions of the ADDAX meter mentioned above are extremely important, but the most significant part of the ADD GRUP’s solution is definitely the communication platform. And the given pilot project displays that the PRIME PLC technology delivering close to 100% data collection rates at JUSCO can be successfully introduced in other regions of India providing the DISCO’s the possibility open, reliable and vendor independent AMI system.
In order to get a broader understanding of system capabilities and more statistics related to system performance in different environments JUSCO and ADD GRUP have agreed to continue testing of PLC PRIME meters on a larger scale on other transformer substations. In view of JUSCO plans to replace all of the old smart meters in order to build a new metering system the experience with ADDAX PRIME PLC shall serve as a good basis for comparative analysis with other technologies and will result in the right choice. Both sides hope for an advantageous collaboration between the companies and want to elaborate an effective mode of interaction for the sake of successful smart metering roll-out. The rest is only a matter of time, determination and perseverance to make the project happen.