Saturday, January 23, 2021

Table of Contents for Power Zone

Interview - Raj H Eswaran (IEEMA)

IIEMA has a big role to play. 40 per cent of a Smart City works on electricity

Indian Electrical & Electronics Manufacturers’ Association (IEEMA) is the apex industry association of manufacturers of electrical, industrial electronics and allied equipment in India. IEEMA has around 800 member organisations encompassing the complete value chain in power generation, transmission and distribution equipment. IEEMA members represent a combined annual turnover in excess of $25 billion and have contributed to more than 90 percent of the power equipment installed in India. RAJ H. ESWARAN, PRESIDENT, IEEMA spoke to SHRIKANT RAO on the sidelines of a CEO’s Round Table in Mumbai. The discussion centred on the government’s ‘100 Smart Cities’ agenda and the role IEEMA would be playing in helping deliver it.


Tell us about the government’s agenda of 100 smart cities. How actionable is that and what is the constructive role IEEMA is expected to be playing in that space?  

The whole thing about smart cities is that you shouldn’t get a feeling that it is a government agenda with urbanisation the. The only way you can be able to manage a city is by making it smart. Smart means reliable and also means to improve the standard of living. The balance of it everything you do has to achieve one of the two goals with respect to urbanisation. The manner in which India is fast urbanising we don’t have any choice but to invest into this. It is not something that the government has thought out of the blue but it is just that they have foreseen that the urban environment would be breaking down and that would lead to more problems. Therefore they are just being proactive towards identifying the issues that are likely to come and are working towards it.

Now to put things Smart Cities in an IEEMA perspective: About 40 per cent of a smart city predominantly works on electricity whether it is pumping, sewage treatment, street lighting and electricity or reliable quality of power. Because if you take a data centre there is a UPS backup, there is a diesel generator set back up there are multiple power lines so all this increases the cost in smart cities. 40 per cent of the electricity that goes into it would have to be smart. If you get down to brass tracks it requires quality power which is reliable and affordable and to achieve these goals you have to put it on automation and on controls that help you keep things running. You can call it a smart way of doing the same thing because it is not something you can do manually.


Right now Smart Cities seems to be very fuzzy idea as far as the government is concerned?   

For the first time the government has come out and said we really don’t know what we want now and could you as an industry please come back and tell us: What is the technology available in the market? What can the industry do to improve the quality of life? It is a very proactive approach to come back to the people who have to execute the job and say what is the best solution for this rather than saying this is the prefixed plan done by 5 people who have never left their home. At the end of the day this the approach taken by the government ensures that whatever they have conceived is implementable and is also measurable.


Obviously this involves a huge financial exercise. Is there money available for such projects? 

The government has allocated Rs 7000 crore this year. That is basically money earmarked for the study to identify what has to be done to take the idea forward. The government seems to be very serious about putting this as one of the focus agenda for the next 5 years and we have been assured that budget is not a constraint provided we identify what needs to be done. The other important difference between this government and the previous one is also the fact that this government recognises that one’s shoe size does not fit all. Therefore Bengaluru’s version of smart cities would be different from Mumbai and that in turn would be different from Delhi which would be different from Hyderabad and the rural version of it would be different from place to place whether MP, UP or Bihar. Identifying tailor-made solutions for all these constituencies is important if it has to be successful. So to that extent IEEMA is working with the government, showing them how to differentiate between the various needs, actually identifying what the needs are, how to address those specific needs and then see how it has to go forward.


Would you be looking to engage with urban local bodies and other agencies in delivering the agenda?

Yes, the next stage of engagement is with the municipal planners, the mayors of the cities etc. For example, you take a very simple thing for a city like Mumbai. As someone at the conference here was mentioning what they don’t want is the metre reader to come into the house.  People now want a mobile based billing platform – they want automatic reading solutions where the hassles are less. For instance, in a city like Lucknow where there is load shedding, the requirement is not whether the meter reader comes or not — it is to say that I am ready to pay for the rent and my load should be cut last in the pecking order. Someone says I want the cheapest electricity so you cut me off first whenever you need to do load shedding. The hospital might say I want uninterrupted supply irrespective of what you do so you can never cut me off. In that case they avoid the diesel generator set and everything.  So all in all we as an industry work with each of the urban planners to find what is the specific requirement of their cities and then come out with solutions that are tailor made to make it effective. The reasons for the failure of the Rajiv Gandhi Yojana Scheme was because there is no one shoe size that fits all. S   o whereas Karnataka did not need the same as what UP did, the same formula was applied for Lucknow.


Tell us of the various constituents you would be seeking to address as part of the construction of Smart Cities?  

If you look at the smart cities the major constituencies are the ones where there is electricity, where there is water, telecommunication, sewage treatment, traffic, security – having security at vantage points getting monitored automatically; parking assistance and so on . So the word smart city really translates into improvement in quality of life. Any improvement has to be a continuous process it is not one set of solutions that you achieve, tick the box and say you have done it. That is just the stage 1, we then proceed to stage 2, stage 3, and stage 4 and so on.


So which are the companies that you are engaging with? Have you already began the process?

All of the members, I mean the large ones, have international experience and they have done it in other places; and the smaller ones have the local knowledge in terms of knowing what is specific to the state, town or district. So it has to be a combination of both and it cannot be done by a company like say Siemens alone to provide the solutions for India as much as it would like to do so. That is never going to work. A large number of stakeholders will need to be involved in the process.


Do you see a large number of Indian companies participating in this process?
I predominantly think this whole concept of smart cities has to be an Indian solution. It cannot be a Korean or a Chinese driven project because it has to work locally in our country.


So what is the timeline for work to start and for there to be some clarity for implementation?

I think it is going to take at least the end of January or February next year. The IEEE-IEEMA Intelect Conference and
Exposition which we have planned at Mumbai during 22-24, January 2015, is a technology demonstration for the government to actually see the possible solutions. Rather than someone sitting on the desk and seeing brochures and writing you will actually see a working model arising from the feedback – people will come back and say this model works for me while that doesn’t and I want to see that solution in place. So out of that you put together a plan which says Lucknow needs this, Bangalore needs this, Mumbai needs this and this is priority 1, 2 and 3. You cannot do everything on day 1.
For example, in Mumbai the need of the day is a good traffic management system, we need to make the traffic move; in Chennai, the need of the day is load shedding – so there is a need to remove people who want to get out of
the grid first and keep hospitals on track; in Bengaluru, the quality of power would be of importance because of the IT and data centres. So our first major exercise is in identifying what is needed first for each city, then come the rest of the things. So with respect to the Smart cities plan we should be able to bring in experts who talk to the people and then make a decision in terms of what is required for each of the cities; it is only after that we will be able to formulate a plan for each city based on the needs.


Is there an approximation you have arrived at in terms of a formulation?

To start with it is like an elephant. Each one wants a different part of the elephant, you want the tusk and the other person wants the trunk, while someone else wants the eyes. Everyone wants the elephant at the end of the day. The question is which part you want first, which you want second. So it is a question of prioritising that. That is just how you build the puzzle.


So would you characterise this plan as an experiment? 

It’s not an experiment. The problem we have in India is that we think too small. We think that just having a Pondicherry is enough and a great thing. What is one Pondicherry? I mean you are a country of 1.2 billion people. Is that an experiment? 


There is a tendency for people to associate Smart Cities with places like Songdo in South Korea?

As I said we have been thinking very small. The entire population of South Korea is marginally bigger than that of Delhi, Songdo could be Vasant Vihar. You have to put things in perspective as a country we are 3 times the population of Europe and what we are doing now is thinking big and in keeping with our potential as a nation.


So what are the main challenges that you see there?

It is the mind-set. We need a mindset to get all the stake holders to believe that we can improve the quality of their life; to get the consumer to believe that we can enable him to do his job in a more efficient manner, to help the utilities believe and accept that if you do all of this at the end of the day your life is going to become easy. The mindset has to change first.


Do you discern some kind of urgency on the part of government and also the stake holders to get together and implement the Smart cities agenda?

The government enacts the policy. The reason why R-APDRP was not successful
in any of the states was because the mindset never changed. The central government said something put a pool of money and said ‘go do it’ but the local people did not want to do it, therefore it was never successful. You have to get local people involved only then will there be forward movement.




Smart Energy Infrastructure Action

Smart Cities among other things will have a significant contribution and component of smart electricity. The 100 Smart Cities being planned by the government will open up new business opportunities as it will require smarter ways of ensuring massive infrastructure management with Power and Electricity at the core, supported by municipal services, safety and security, transportation, NGOs and other allied organisations for the success of the project plan.

  • Modernise power systems for the smart cities through self healing designs, automation, remote monitoring and control.
  • completely underground distribution system having ring mains and fault tolerance: Indoor and automated substations with indoor transformers and switchgears to make the system safe ,secure and clean.
  • Automatically rerouting power, shifting loads and/or controlling embedded generation to manage constraints and outages on the network the condition of network assets and predicting failures thus reducing maintenance costs Offering better consumer service: Intelligent planning of energy systems that help the end users to be intelligent consumers.
  • Empowerment of consumers through technology interventions like dynamic load limiting rather than load shedding through well designed demand management systems for large loads like commercial buildings and analysis on dynamic pricing for residential electricity.
  • of safe, secure and reliable integration of distributed and renewable energy resources.
  • Intelligent and weather adapting lighting in street lights – engage the masses, improve road safety and reduce demand and energy cost.
  • Training of air conditioning engineers, electricians, construction companies, facility managers so as to connect the relevant equipment together.
  • To build awareness and a platform for public private partnerships.

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