Friday, June 24, 2022

Electronic chip supply crunch affecting govt’s smart metering programme: Power Secretary

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  • The Power Secretary said that in order to address the supply crunch, the government is mulling a PLI scheme to boost local manufacturing of electronic chips
  • The government’s plan is to achieve cost reduction through faster rollout of smart metering in order to enable large-scale conversion of meters, said Alok Kumar

New Delhi: Power Secretary Alok Kumar said on Thursday that a global supply crunch pertaining to electronic chips is affecting the rollout of the government’s smart metering programme. Addressing industry leaders at Confederation of Indian Industry’s (CII) virtual event on smart metering, Kumar said that there are assembly lines of 4-5 crore electricity meters which can be converted to smart meters quickly, within a matter of four-five months, however, a slow rollout of smart meters due to a shortage of electronics chips that are primarily imported by India, is holding up the task.

“There’s a glitch in the supply of smart meters. I have been told that there are assembly lines of 4-5 crore electricity meters which can be converted to smart meters very quickly within a span of 4-5 months. The problem is that we import certain components for smart meters. We are seeing a shortage of electronic chips the world over and that is something that has impacted the pace of the rollout of our smart metering programme. So, in the current phase of the programme, we have a pipeline of 1 crore smart meters, orders for which have already been awarded, but we have been able to achieve the installation of only 36 lakh smart meters,” said the Power Secretary.

Govt mulls PLI scheme for electronic chip manufacturing

The top bureaucrat said that in order to resolve the glitch, the Ministry of Power is consulting with the Ministry of Information and Technology and a Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme is being discussed to boost local manufacturing of electronic chips. “Supply crunch (of electronic chips) influencing our smart metering programme rollout. We are consulting with the Ministry of Information and Technology and we are deliberating ways to incentivise local manufacturing of these chips through PLI scheme.” He added that if the scheme is rolled out soon, domestic manufacturing of these chips will receive a huge boost in the next four-five months.

‘REC to spearhead a programme for development of AI systems for discoms’

Kumar said that the implementation of smart metering and energy audits mandated by the government for discoms will throw up huge data pertaining to the power sector. “So, we are very conscious that this data should be analysed intelligently in a way that it leads to good actionable points for utility managers and for policymakers,” he said.

 
“Based on this premise, the Ministry of Power, through REC, is going to soon start a challenge for our technology service providers and start-ups to develop models based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning with discoms who are willing to participate. And once these commercial models develop, they will be replicated all across the country. And we are very sure that intelligent analysis of the data thrown up by system metering through smart meters will lead to effective and accelerated efficiency improvements in discoms and suitable policy formulations,” said the Power Secretary.

‘Faster rollout of smart metering will lead to cost-reduction’

The Secretary said that the government’s plan is to achieve cost reduction through faster rollout of smart metering in order to enable large-scale conversion of meters. “Energy transition is with us. And flexibility in the electricity system should not only come from generation and supply side. It will have a lot of cost in terms of storage. If we are able to also mobilise the demand side management then the cost of electricity will be less. And smart meters will come very handy because it will make our system future-ready,” said Kumar.

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