Power Distribution Utilities for Collaborative Growth

India Smart Grid Forum (ISGF) organised the 7th edition of the ‘Distribution Utility Meet’ (DUM) in Kochi, Kerala, on November 2-3, 2023, in partnership with Kerala State Electric Board (KSEB) Limited and the Energy Department of the Government of Kerala.

The discussion was on the topic Growth of RE and EV; and the Plan for Enhancing Grid Flexibility in collaboration with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.  The discussion focused upon Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) for RE Integration – Smoothening of Rooftop PV Generation; EVs as VPP for Grid Flexibility; BESS in Distribution Substations and Digital Tools for Management of Distributed RE Resources.

The Panel was chaired by Alok Tandon, Chairperson, JERC (for the State of Goa & UTs) and Moderated by Ravi Seethapathy, ISGF WG Chair and GSEF Ambassador for Americas. Theme Presentation was given by Killian McKenna, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, USA & Zakir Rather, Associate Professor, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Mumbai.

The Panel of Experts included Dr Hans-Peter Igor Waldl, Managing Director, Overspeed GmbH, Oldenburg, Germany; Sharvari Patki, Program Head, Electric Mobility, WRI India; Sainath Bandhakavi, Principal Solutions Architect – Power & Utilities, Sustainability, Amazon Web Services (AWS); Vishal Kumar, BU Manager-IMA, PHOENIX CONTACT (India) Pvt. Ltd; Neelesh Kane, Chief-Mumbai Distribution, TATA Power Company Ltd; and Narayankumar Sreekumar, Associate Director, Electric Mobility Program, Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation

DUM 2023 provided a unique platform for the entire DISCOM community to share their experiences in dealing with efforts towards energy transition, grid modernisation, and digitalisation on a fast track as they leaped towards a Net Zero power sector in India. In the post-pandemic world, utilities were urged not to repeat the same mistakes but to learn from each other and draw from global expertise and experiences. Experts from leading utilities from the USA, Europe, South Korea, and Japan were invited to participate in DUM 2023 and share their valuable experiences.

The deployment of 250 million smart meters under RDSS by the DISCOMs is progressing rapidly. The decreasing cost of solar rooftop PV systems is fuelling their adoption and growth, while electric vehicles (EVs) have gained popularity due to their very low running costs, experiencing faster adoption across all segments (2-wheelers, 3-wheelers, and 4-wheelers). The Government of India has recently initiated the National Electric Bus Programme, aiming for 50,000 electric buses by 2025, necessitating MW-scale power connections to numerous bus depots nationwide. With multiple concurrent programs advancing swiftly, DISCOMs find themselves in a demanding position.

Narayankumar Sreekumar, Associate Director, Electric Mobility Initiative, Shakti, participated in the conference, where he said “We have witnessed how demand-side management regulations have effectively boosted energy efficiency within electricity distribution companies. Establishing similarly effective regulations for vehicle-to-grid technologies is crucial to stimulate investment. In addition to incentives, it’s imperative to introduce punitive measures to facilitate this transition.”