Growing Digitalization and Automation in Power Sector

Technological advancements and innovations driven by rapid electrification of segments like transport, expansion of renewable and digitalization of the grid are transforming the power sector. With decentralization, de-carbonisation and deregulation, the entire business model of utilities is evolving rapidly and state-of-art technologies are making those changes possible that were beyond the imagination a few years back. These technologies are gradually making inroads in the Indian power sector as well.

The requirement for making coal fired stations intelligent arises from the bead for highly efficient plant operation and asset management on one hand and wide scale penetration of renewable energy (solar photovoltaic and wind) into the grid which results in rapid cycling of the thermal plants, on the other hand. Ramping up or down of thermal power plants hitherto was through manual load setting or through the free governor mode of operation. With the entrance of rapidly varying renewable generation, the need for automatic load setting on the thermal plants through intelligent features arises.

Similarly, to increase the operational efficiency and ensure effective network planning, distribution companies are also undertaking several digitisation and grid modernization initiatives. The discoms are also focusing on enhancing its consumer service experience by implementing information technology solutions. Digitisation and modernization have become the buzzwords for grid upgradation of advance information technology solutions with business operations and planning. This has gained momentum as IT infrastructure in the country has improved by leaps and bounds and is becoming competitive day by day. Meanwhile, with the advancement in communications technology, digitization has become even more relevant because it measured a performance parameter correctly and communicate it in a timely manner allows the utilities to take better decisions based on accurate data.

In Transmission segment, there is continuous advancement of transmission equipments with the application of digitlization and automation and make it suitable for smart grid operation and that is more compact, reliable, environment friendly and requires minimum installation and commissioning time. Moreover, as the pace of renewable energy integration increases and there is widespread adoption of smart grid technologies, utilities would be required to increase the deployment of intelligent equipments or to undertake modifications to transform the existing modules into smart equipments as the availability of real-time data is critical in the context of both developments. In times to come, space challenges in transmission are also bound to get more acute. Hence, going ahead, equipment manufacturers need to undertake innovations and more towards smaller but smarter equipments. As a result, there is a need for more sophisticated operation and control to keep pace with the increase in supervisory and operational control in the segment of power generation, transmission, distribution.