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Electric Power In Smart Cities Using Cloud & IoT

Saturday, 17 September 2016 10:11

Policy

The energy policy at the national and local levels of administration is the key in implementing Electric Power aspect of smart cities.

Focus on subsidy incentives for solar panels to encourage people to install them can be an aspect of this policy. This shows a focus on renewable energy harvested locally.

Taking this a step further, say you have installed solar panels that generate enough power for your townhouse, and you take off on a vacation. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get a return on your investment while you are not using it? We are talking of a smart grid which also accepts power inputs from traditional consumers, in instances when they have a surplus of locally generated power. That is really an added motivation for the general populace to generate power not only from solar energy, but by every innovative locally available energy source.

This has more advantages than meets the eye.

As a result you then have local communities that are power sufficient, reducing pressure and dependence on the electric power grid. Overall power generated per unit consumed is reduced because transmission losses are greatly reduced. Transmission losses which are the highest in power distribution, up to 30 per cent, are no longer a major factor because of locally produced and consumed power.

That is how you go from a smart city to a green world.

Smart Cities

 

Technology Enablers

Available technology provides the pillars for such a policy for creation of smart cities.

Smart meters at consumer site monitor energy in both directions, i.e. energy consumed on-site, as well as energy provided to the grid for which the consumer (producer in this case) is reimbursed. Smart meters also measure consumption on a more granular level, and can provide this information at regular pre-determined intervals. This data provides information on consumption patterns which are used by a "smart grid" to adjust, and provide for the demand most efficiently.

Besides smart meters at the consumer end, the smart grid also depends on enabling technologies at the station and substation levels.

Another important aspect is the software to collect massive amounts of data, and massaging it to give useful insights. These information technologies are available from several vendors, and heavily rely on cloud services and storage facilities.

This is being seen as a massive opportunity by the industry. Major companies and almost everybody is gearing up with offerings aligned to smart cities. With respect to the power sector, there are innovations in electronic devices, custom electronics, smart meters and virtually every piece of equipment is being smartened up to communicate on the cloud.

This portfolio of devices using communicative technologies based on the internet, and not only in the power sector, gets loosely grouped under the heading “Internet of Things”.

Software platforms and services, custom made and ready to use off the shelf are keeping pace with the devices to provide rounded off solutions. This runs the whole gamut from registry support, device libraries, security authorisation and authentication, hacker protection and protocol support through conversion gateways. The data thus retrieved is stored in massive databases using ever more efficient data mining and warehousing technologies.

Business rules are applied to the data. This is further used to create reports and identify trends in other aspects of power management. It is also supplied to other software services and applications as required.

 Smart Grid

 

Asset management

The proliferation of number and types of devices, and availability of information services has made Asset Management both possible and necessary. Efficient and prompt management of all related assets with respect to installing, trouble shooting, maintenance and decommissioning is enabled.

The meters and other station and sub-station equipment are also smart in the sense that besides functional data they can provide information about their health for diagnostic purposes. This is done using technologies and protocols chosen from a large pool of options.

Besides the devices, end consumers and maintenance staff can also raise complaints and services requests, which get tracked to completion.

 

People Drivers

For any venture to be a success the people element has to be considered. This maxim is especially true for the transition to smart cities. Generally citizens are positive about Smart Cities, with its focus on green technologies and better facilities for citizens.

However obstacles do come up in several forms. There is an element of initial cost to be overcome, which sees some resistance. Also reports of higher billings post smart meter installations are rampant. Although not with much substantiation.

But it is inevitable that this is the way forward in the long run. The value of green power, efficiency, improved quality and service is definitely visible. But the immediate challenges of the economics of the deal definitely have to be managed in the short run. Frameworks have to be established to monitor and sustain its value in the long run.

 The impetus to transition an entire city to smart technologies rests with the buy-in of the citizens, and is the key to becoming a smart city.

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