Anil Sardana, CEO, TATA Power
India’s energy sector has its share of issues, not the least being inadequate last mile connectivity, demand and supply gap and loss suffered during transmission and distribution. Investment in technologies to strengthen data analytics ability and digital transformation could be a solution to address power theft; Meter & distribution equipment tempering; transmission & distribution losses, load management issues and malfunction of distribution and transmission substations. Through technological innovation it is possible to deliver energy competitively at the remotest areas and grant power to the 300 million who are still without electricity.
Digitization to Support Consumer Authority
Digitization helps detect operational challenges, prevent outages and substantially reduces maintenance costs. Establishment of a near-real time reporting platform to drive business process improvements and easier decision making are some of the benefits of entering the digitization space. Reduction in time required supporting critical business reports and development of reliable and accurate data platform for analytics are the additional benefits that power utilities can get.
An important aspect of digitization is that it takes into account the changing expectations of the consumer. Traditional roles and distinctions between consumers and producers are slowly changing. A consumer of the past is today both a producer and a consumer. Consumers have the option to install solar panels in their premises, switch between grid based and solar power and even sell the excess power so generated to the grid. Digitization and use of a smart meter will help measure this and thereby support consumer authority. Data from these smart meters can be used to identify power usage patterns and understand how power is consumed.
Tata Power – A case study
Tata Power, India’s largest integrated power company and a pioneer in ushering innovative interventions and adoption of new technologies, is committed to providing quality, reliable, competitive and uninterrupted power to its consumers. In line with its commitment to constantly innovate for the benefit of its customers, the company has implemented the Distribution Management System (DMS) in its Mumbai distribution network to facilitate effective monitoring and control of its network operations in real time with a geographical visualization across the land base of Mumbai.
With the implementation of DMS, Tata Power has been able to restore supply to its consumers (in the unlikely event of a power failure) in the shortest possible time without any manual intervention. The system instantaneously determines fault location with a real-time geographical view and actual scenario of the affected area. This is a result of the various advanced functionalities of DMS like auto-fault identification, localization, isolation and service restoration (FLISR), switch order management, feeder reconfiguration, state estimation and dynamic load flow, etc.
The transmission and distribution sector has a large number of assets spread all over India. Usually the tracking of these assets is done by physical verification calls by matching the description in the asset register to the asset in physical form. This overall process is very tedious and time consuming. Moreover, due to the inherent inconsistency and limited detail of information available in the asset register, this process becomes cumbersome and sometimes leads to non-verification of assets. Manual updating of movement of assets and retirement of assets information also has many dependencies. As such verification of the assets process is not able to give the true picture for the assets which are very critical from a business point of view. This manual process of tracking/validating of assets lacks effective asset management and causes time overruns.
The uses of the Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) technology by Tata Power brings in efficiency and thus supports the company manage transmission and distribution assets effectively. The technology helps in faster tracking of location and identification of the assets in the field. Even recording the movement of asset from one plant is made easier by the use of RFID as also integrating with financial transactions, taking benefits of ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning). Verification process is faster and all assets are covered every year accurately with no manual interventions. The real time data is configured and errors arising out of manual verification process are eliminated.
Similarly, all issues related to Employee; Materials & Vendors as much as consumers; once interlinked through ERP & capturing information at point-of-origin using digitization- tools, eg: using mobile, sensors; analytics; would help facilitate all services seamlessly & accurately and above all low costs and speedily.
In a vast country like India, power asset management, consumer services is a major issue. In such a scenario, digitization and use of big data analytics is imperative to ensure 24X7 uninterrupted supplies to the consumers. Power utilities like Tata Power have been using technology, digitization & big data analytics in real time to improve compliance with regulatory requirements as well as to improve operational efficiency. The time is right for the industry as a whole to integrate and incorporate digitization and data analytics into their processes and invest in technological solutions to have sustainable answers to problems faced by the industry.