November 2018
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Supergrids in India: Can we smooth the path to transmission’s future?

ICTpost Energy Bureau

Unlike the smart grid programs emphasis of western countries on distribution grid and Chinese emphasis on transmission grid, Indian smart grid developments are in both the sectors

The concept of a “super-grid” capable of moving huge amounts of electricity over long distances is popular with environmentalists and governments keen to promote the integration of more renewables into the power supply, overcome transmission bottlenecks and bring power to remote communities.

An electricity super-grid could take green electricity produced in one country to another through thousands of kilometres of sub-sea cables. Wind farms built out at sea could also be connected to a number of countries.

Development of Smart Power Grid is not something for which we have to start afresh. It is integration of all the efforts that we are doing since beginning to make the power grid more robust, economical, cleaner and convenient for customer usage. The only difference is its uniform application throughout the system in a time bound manner. Revolution in computation technology, communication system and digital memory cost enables the application of these efforts effectively and economically. On the other hand need of digital quality power requires adoption of new technological development in power sector.

Increasing power generation from renewable energy has led to excess energy-sharing. Implementation of supergrids within select Indian states would enhance effective power transmission and distribution. Unlike the smart grid programs emphasis of western countries on distribution grid and Chinese emphasis on transmission grid, Indian smart grid developments are in both the sectors.

What is a Supergrid?

A super grid is superior not only because it is a wide area mega grid, but also because it is highly coordinated from a macro level spanning nations and continents, all the way down to the micro level scheduling low priority loads like water heaters and refrigeration. Super grids also have intelligence features in the wide area transmission layer which integrate the local smart grids into a single wide area super grid. This is similar to how the internet bound together small networks into a single ubiquitous network.

– Supergrids transport large energy loads across regions or long distances
– A large interconnected system of high-voltage direct current (HVDC) technology facilitates the transport of energy among countries or areas with large supply and demand needs.

– Alternating current (AC) has large transmission losses and is, therefore, not suited for transport across long distances.
– Currently, due to market fragmentation and weak interconnections, electricity markets and policies in favour of supergrids are still national.
– Moreover, the lack of necessary infrastructure has meant that the benefits Europe could reap from a single electricity market have not been completely gained.

– One challenge to supergrids is consumer opposition to building high-voltage networks for trade or removal of grid congestion.
– Wholesale legal and regulatory changes are required to open up the electricity markets so that generating companies receiving subsidies for feeding renewable energy into their country’s grid also receive subsidies if they supply power elsewhere.