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Author's profile photo Phillip Vaughan

Improving Energy Efficiency in Power Starved Asia

This week we saw India’s energy crisis spread to half the country, when three of its regional grids collapsed. 620 million people were left without electricity for several hours in, by far, the world’s biggest blackout. The massive failure, just a day after a similar, but smaller power failure in the country’s north highlights India’s difficulty in meeting its huge appetite for energy as the country aspires to become an economic superpower.

This is perhaps the worst felt example yet of a severe lack in capacity and supply across the Asia region.

Last year China had a severe power shortage as a result of the drought in the south and rising coal prices. Many provinces had to adopt power rationing and factories forced to stop work made heavy losses. Power shortages are not uncommon in China in the summer months. The situation in 2011 was worsened by a drought, when drying rivers reduced the contributing supply of hydroelectricity. Rising costs of coal and oil exacerbated the situation, because electricity fees are fixed by the government, and power generators curb output, because the more electricity they generate, the more losses they incur.

In Japan recently, a government panel warned that Kansai Electric Power and two other Japanese utilities may have power shortages this summer without supplies from nuclear reactors. Kansai Electric Power, the electric most dependent on nuclear power, may face the biggest shortage of 14.9 percent, the panel said in a draft report published on 12 May.

However it takes time to make the physical infrastructure and regulatory changes required to solve these problems. One suggestion is for individual companies to improve on their energy efficiency, which might be the best way to reduce overall power consumption in the short term.

SAP has supported energy efficiency initiatives by introducing Smart Meter Analytics, which runs on HANA, SAP’s in-memory high performance computing technology. The Program uses data from smart meters that record the pattern of consumption over the day and can compare like-for-like companies on their energy efficiency in fine detail. This then becomes a focus for reducing energy consumption and attending costs.

Both Japan and China have invested in smart meters and India is progressing down this path. State Grid China had introduced 36 million smart meters by 2011 close, and are on their way to reaching their objective of 300 million smart meters installed by 2015. Kansai Electric have installed to date about one million smart meters into its commercial customer base.

At SAP’s China Sapphire last week, Wayne Johncock, the former Head of the SAP Competency Centre for Centrica, UK told an audience that Centrica’s British Gas had very recently built a business of around 160 people in short time advising on energy efficiency measures. British Gas had started to install smart meters and had a rollout plan of 20 million meters by 2020. Johncock said British Gas had acquired and planned to take advantage of the Smart Meter Analytics Program to assist their advisory business.

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      Author's profile photo James McClelland
      James McClelland

      It should also be noted that the SAP Smart Meter Analytics not only supports Smart Meters, but also handles interval read meter readings from all sorts of meter types.This is a much broader spectrum.

      Author's profile photo Sumith Rajagopalan
      Sumith Rajagopalan

      The short term solution could be improving energy efficiency of industries.  However that comes at a cost and unless the Government brings in policies providing an incentive for doing this, not many companies will take this up.

      Implementing smart meters have it's own challenges.  One the smart meters are expensive compared to the current ones. Second the most distribution companies are already in huge debt, so who will incur the additional cost of implementing the smart meters.  Trying to pass the cost to consumers will be a politically sensitive topic.  Third, it is said that the life of a smart meter is far lower than the conventional meters.