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Can smart meters make India energy efficient?

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Smart meters have the potential to revolutionise India's energy sector by enhancing efficiency, promoting sustainability, and reducing costs.

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In recent years, smart meters have been garnering attention for their potential to revolutionise management systems in India. These devices play a crucial role in minimising billing and collection inefficiencies, helping reduce aggregate technical and commercial losses, and enhancing overall grid operations.

The ambitious goal of installing 25 crore smart meters under the by 2025 underscores the government's commitment to modernising India's energy infrastructure and driving efficiency in the power sector.

A study published in the International Journal for Legal Research and Analysis highlighted that Aggregate Technical and Commercial Losses in India currently stand at 15-16 percent, with an average annual loss of 34 percent. These losses not only strain the financial viability of distribution companies but also contribute to inefficiencies in the energy distribution system.

Recognising the need for reform, the Indian government introduced the Advanced Metering Infrastructure programme in July 2021. This initiative aims to modernise the energy grid, introduce prepaid metering, and enhance the operational efficiency of energy companies, aligning with India's vision of becoming a “Viksit Bharat”.

The National Programme is a key component of the government's strategy to improve the financial and operational efficiencies of distribution companies. By reducing aggregate technical and commercial losses to 12-15 percent by 2025, the program aims to enhance revenue collection and streamline grid operations. Furthermore, the introduction of smart meters will enable more accurate demand forecasting and facilitate better management of energy consumption.

In its 2024-25 vote-on-account budget, the Government of India allocated USD 9 billion towards providing 300 units of free solar-powered electricity to 10 million households this fiscal year. Smart metering solutions are poised to play a pivotal role in supporting such ambitious renewable energy projects.

By ensuring accuracy and transparency in electricity management and monitoring, smart meters pave the way for a more efficient and resilient power grid. The integration of smart meters with renewable energy sources will enable households to better manage their energy consumption and contribute to the country's renewable energy goals.

It is imperative that each household adopts technologies like smart meters that empower end-consumers to control consumption and costs. Smart meters offer real-time data on energy usage, allowing consumers to monitor their consumption patterns and make informed decisions about energy usage.

Additionally, smart meters enable energy suppliers to remotely monitor and manage energy distribution, reducing the need for manual interventions and optimising grid operations. Moreover, the deployment of smart meters can lead to significant cost savings for both consumers and energy companies. It enables consumers to better understand their energy consumption patterns and identify opportunities for energy savings, ultimately leading to lower utility bills.

Smart meters are just the tip of the iceberg in the broader horizon of IoT infrastructure. These devices serve as the foundation for building a connected energy ecosystem, enabling seamless integration with other IoT devices and systems. By leveraging data analytics and machine learning algorithms, the data aggregated from smart meters can provide valuable insights into energy consumption patterns, enabling energy companies to optimize their operations and improve service delivery.

Furthermore, smart meters also promote energy conservation and environmental . By providing real-time data on energy consumption, smart meters encourage consumers to adopt energy-efficient practices and reduce their carbon footprint. This aligns with India's commitment to addressing climate change and transitioning towards a low-carbon economy.

Another key advantage of smart meters is their ability to support demand response programmes and dynamic pricing schemes. Demand response programs allow energy companies to manage peak demand periods more effectively by incentivising consumers to reduce their electricity usage during times of high demand.

Dynamic pricing schemes, on the other hand, encourage consumers to shift their electricity usage to off-peak hours when electricity prices are lower. By enabling real-time communication between energy suppliers and consumers, smart meters facilitate the implementation of these demand-side management strategies, thereby improving grid reliability and reducing the need for costly investments in new infrastructure.

Put simply, smart meters have the potential to revolutionise India's energy sector by enhancing efficiency, promoting sustainability, and reducing costs. As the government continues to roll out the Smart Meter National Programme and invest in renewable energy infrastructure, smart meters will play an increasingly important role in achieving India's energy goals and building a greener, more resilient energy system for the future.

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Bharat Bhushan
Bharat Bhushan
Bharat Bhushan, Executive Director at Radius Synergies International, is a technology-driven management expert with 29 years of diverse experience. Specialising in strategic and technology management, he's adept in product development, software engineering, and project execution.
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