By Hassan Farooq
The whole world is buzzed by the smart grid concept and with each coming day, we are witnessing countries going for modernizing their outdated power grid infrastructure. But what is really this Smart grid phenomenon and how really is it important for a developing country like Pakistan, which is currently facing the worst energy crises of all times.
Smart grid is modern version of electric power grid infrastructure which uses communication technologies to enhance power generation, delivery and utilization.
For nontechnical fellows, electricity generated at power stations is brought back by network of power lines to cities where it is fed to our homes. Electric Meters installed in our homes, ”Black Dabbas with a rotating disc” record daily usage which is collected by the inefficient network of Wapda people once each month. This is the bottleneck in our electric infrastructure network since Wapda doesn’t have real time picture of load usage in individual homes rather it is able to get it once every thirty days.
Smart Grid apart from revolutionizing other aspects of electric infrastructure copes with this problem by communicating these meters with the main control room (aka Advanced Metering Infrastructure) so that electric utilities can have clear idea how the load generated is being utilized and for hunting down line losses due to “Kunda Culture” where every gentleman who pays his bills regularly has to bear the expenses of electric thieves.
Apart from this, load forecasting is possible for optimizing power generation. Another important aspect of Smart Grid is integration of renewable energy sources into the power grid. Solar Panels installed in homes can generate energy of their own and excess can be sold back to the electric utilities.
These ideas seem to be very captivating especially during this period when Pakistan is facing 12-18 hours load shedding. However upgrading power grid infrastructure is not a matter of seconds. It requires huge investment and careful planning to modernize the power grid which was designed decades ago.
The fundamental objective in laying out power grid infrastructure is to analyze load demand and predict its value for minimum five years. Unfortunately Pakistan is stuck at this point where our demand is exceeding the supply. It is unclear whether it’s due to poor planning or it’s politically jeopardized but the point is that it is the people and industry who are being victimized. If we are able to surpass this barrier then we should not sit contented keeping hands on hands and waiting for progressive countries of the world including our beloved Neighbor (Which by today has started conquering the space) to direct us for smart grid path rather we should look forward to it as soon as possible so that we are able to enjoy benefits of this phenomenal technology which are huge energy savings, less energy bills, fewer blown transformers and efficient load supply scenario.
Writer is a research Student in Malaysia working on Smart Power Grid Infrastructure