Managing Energy Needs: Key to the evolution of smart cities

Rapid urbanisation and high growth have a significant impact on energy consu­m­p­tion and the consequent carbon emissio­ns. Cities, in particular, face complex and interrelated challenges in multiple areas such as the environment, energy, transport, water and waste management. Managing the energy footprint of cities is one of the most challenging tasks and as existing cities evolve into smart cities, smart energy management (SEM) beco­mes a crucial part of this urban transition. The government is working towards integrating SEM into urban planning with the help of various policies and programmes like the Smart Cities Mission.

Urban planning cannot be done in isolation and requires close integration with other urban demands and energy needs. Technologies for smart energy generation and management mu­st be integrated into smart urban planning. En­ergy infrastructure and services must be integrated into the planning process just like other amenities. These include distributed generation and storage, peak load reduction and ot­her demand-side management, waste recycling and waste-to-energy initiatives, electric vehicles (EVs) and mass transit with mobility-as-a-service, sa­fety and security systems such as street lights and CCTV cameras, and buildings with energy neutrality.

Smart lighting

Sustainable green building initiatives like smart lighting are gaining traction around the world. Installing smart lighting with LED bulbs can reduce energy usage by 50-75 per cent for buildings, thus reducing the frequency of re­placing luminaires, leading to cost optimisati­on, waste reduction, and a greener environment. With several state governments, local organisations and sports authorities increasingly exhibiting interest in smart lighting systems, India’s market for connected lighting systems is rapidly expanding.

One of the significant developments has been the installation of built-in surveillance cameras, cloud-based EV charging Wi-Fi hotspots and multiple mobile hotspots to support street lighting and improve mobile payment coverage under the Smart Cities Mission by Bhopal Smart City Development Corporation Limited. Similarly, cities such as Pune, Naya Raipur Development Authority in Chhattisgarh, and New Delhi Mu­nicipal Council have adopted connected lighting systems in their respective cities to implement smart street lighting systems. Smart lighting systems have basic lighting control modalities like motion sensing and adapting light levels as well as advanced features such as measurement of temperature, humidity, various air quality metrics, and noise levels in the area. These systems also provide the capability to manage connectivity of streetlights via various technologies and integrate multi-modal sensing and backhaul and analytics of data.

 To sustain the clean energy pathway, smart technologies and fuel alternatives need to be adopted to help drive India’s energy transition.

Smart metering

Smart meters are ideal solutions for increasing the operational efficiency of discoms. Owing to the many proven advantages of smart meters, discoms are increasingly adopting them, leading to a substantial growth of the smart meter market in India. In December 2022, Bharti Airtel won a cellular internet of things (IoT) solution mandate with Tata Power Western Odi­sha Dis­tribution Limited to monitor and track smart me­ters with advanced analytics. The mandate will see the deployment of 200,000 smart meters with IoT solutions, of which 70,000 will be delivered in the first phase. The company is working with multiple state utilities in Punjab, Megha­laya, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Bihar.

In addition, in October 2022, Adani Trans­mis­sion Limited’s Distribution Platform was appointed for providing advanced metering infrastructure to Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST). This involves implementing the smart metering project on a design-build-finance-own-operate-transfer basis. As part of the project, 1.08 million smart meters and related communication and cloud infrastructure will be installed in over 30 months.

Digital technologies such as smart water meters have successfully lowered non-revenue water and minimised water loss. Over the past four to five years, government programmes su­ch as the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Ur­ban Transformation, the Jal Jeevan Mission and the Smart Cities Mission have launched in­itiatives to address this problem by ensuring 100 per cent metering of water supply and replacing manual meters with advanced metering infrastructure.

As water scarcity remains a critical issue, the Panaji Public Works Department in October 2022 awarded a smart water metering contract to Cranberry Analytics, with an initial pha­se of replacing 3,094 consumer-grade mecha­nical water meters with low power wide area networking (LoWAN)-enabled ultrasonic smart water meters.

Furthermore, the civic body has a vision to supply 24×7 drinking water in Tiruchirappalli city. To this end, it plans to install smart meters to measure water consumption in seven wards for round-the-clock water supply. The pilot scheme involving the selected seven wards will be completed by the end of 2023, and the same will be implemented in the remaining wards in the city by 2024.

 Managing the energy footprint of cities is one of the most challenging tasks. As existing cities evolve into
smart cities, smart energy management becomes a crucial part of the urban transition.

Solar initiatives

Solar energy is becoming an integral part of smart city planning to provide clean, green and inexpensive energy solutions. Diu Smart City is a remarkable success story in the solar energy domain. It is the first city in India to function en­tirely on renewable energy during the daytime. This has been possible due to the 9 MW solar park and 79 government buildings that have solar panels installed. It saves around 13,000 tonnes of carbon emissions annually and reduces power tariffs by 15 per cent.

Owing to this transformation, Maharashtra has been taking many initiatives. Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited awarded a project to Tata Power Renewable En­ergy Limited (TPREL) to set up a 150 MW solar project in Solapur. In February 2023, TPREL al­so signed an agreement with Vivarea Condomi­nium, a residential society in Mumbai, to supply solar power. The 3.125 MW solar plant will be commissioned by October 2023 and will provide green power to Vivarea Condominium at about 40 per cent less than the cost of existing tariffs.

In addition, as part of its efforts to enable India’s green energy transition, NTPC Green En­ergy Limited on April 17, 2023 commissi­o­ned the fourth part capacity of 50 MW of the 300 MW Nokhra solar photovoltaic project at Bikaner, Rajasthan. The first three-part capacities aggregating 200 MW have already been declared commercially operational.

Future of smart energy in India

India is on a journey to establish itself as the th­ird-largest energy consumer. However, the country is facing the challenge of balancing its growing energy demands with the need for a clean energy transition, given the rapid pace of urbanisation and rising energy consumption. India is also at the forefront of the global energy transition with an ambitious target of producing 500 GW of renewable energy by 2030. To sustain the clean energy pathway, several smart technologies and fuel alternatives need to be adopted to help drive India’s energy transition. In addition, efforts to integrate renewable energy with energy storage, smart metering, smart lighting and clean energy alternatives will be critical to creating a more reliable and resilient energy system.

 Efforts to integrate renewable energy with energy storage, smart metering, smart lighting and clean energy alternatives will be critical to creating a more reliable and resilient energy system.

In sum

For India to achieve energy independence and have a positive impact, core infrastructure sectors such as water, sanitation, housing, and transportation and mobility, urban planning and smart energy infrastructure design must be led by sustainable and renewable energy re­sources. Further, it is essential to deploy tech­no­logy for widespread access to inexpensive, dependable and high quality electricity. It also needs to ensure energy efficiency through IoT and appropriate regulations.