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Adding 'smart' to Asia's power grid

Posted: 03 Nov 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:smart grid? power? energy?

Asia has a new goal, and that is to install a more responsive, automated and efficient power grid. This smarter system promises to prevent power outages, conserve energy and support green pursuits, such as renewable energy generation and electric vehicle deployment.

Efforts to upgrade power systems all over the world will drive smart grid technology revenue to grow from $44.1 billion in 2014 to $70.2 billion in 2023, with cumulative global spending adding up to $594 billion, according to Navigant Research.

"Government mandates and growing challenges to grid stability, such as ageing infrastructure, electric vehicle charging and distributed generation, are contributing to increased spending on everything from smart metering systems in the field to new IT systems in the operations centre," said Richelle Elberg, senior research analyst at Navigant Research.

The rapid evolution of the market for smart grid technologies stems from requirements as varied as supporting a developing grid and robust renewables build-out to addressing an acute need for demand response, home energy management and smart meter deployments, and even facilitating global export of power.

Within Asia Pacific, the smart grid landscape is diverse, to say the least. Marcus Torchia, Worldwide Smart Grid Strategies research manager at IDC, identified the main drivers of technology investment in the region:

  • Managing consumer influence. Household purchases of electronics, white goods, small appliances and more load hungry end points create a larger aggregate demand profile. Average household energy consumption rises as the standard of living increases. At the same time, companies offering retail energy develop new offerings shaped by the "voice of the customer."
  • Reducing revenue risk. In some competitive retail markets, utilities are actively seeking to stem customer churn through vastly improved service business processes. In other markets, energy theft can account for up to of 50 per cent of revenue losses. Technologies such as smart meters, and customer information system (CIS)-based analytics, help to improve revenue recognition. Examples include theft reduction in India and speeding meter to cash cycle in Korea.
  • Increasing asset utilisation. In markets with mature utility businesses, the need for more efficient operations is a key business driver for future technology investment. For example, with a shortage of generation capacity, utilities resort to a higher utilisation rate by running generators longer, increasing operating levels from 70 per cent to 75 per cent (common in the Asia/Pacific region) to 80 per cent peak maximum output (common in North America and Europe).
  • Improving reliability. Reliability improvement goals direct investments in grid infrastructure from generation to distribution down to the smart meter. This is backed in part by the desire to create a satisfied customer, both commercial and residential. Grid modernisations also improve efficiencies and, ultimately, profitability by reducing energy lossin transmission and distributionand resource waste such as fuel.

For Michael Markides, research manager for Smart Grid and Utilities at IHS Technology, smart grid deployments in the region advance as utilities take steps to make their generation capabilities meet the increasing demand for power. He told EE Times Asia, "Where the smart grid will come to play in Asia is when the full smart city movement gets more momentum."

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