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India's Utilities Are Poised for Digital Revolution

India's government plans to roll out 35 million smart meters by 2019, deploy 175 GW of renewable capacity by 2022,  and accommodate as many as 7 million electric/hybrid vehicles by 2020. 

As a result, both electricity supply and demand are on the verge of becoming unpredictable, intermittent, and variable, according to new analysis from EY

The analysis says the convergence of these factors presents a good case for grid-scale energy storage to dovetail with renewable sources of energy and electric vehicles. To accomplish this, utilities would need state-of-the-art automation and machine-to-machine communication systems capable of low-latency and high-reliability operation, thereby creating an "internet of energy."

What's more, it will be necessary for the utility of the future to guide electricity demand by offering demand-response programs that provide financial benefits to consumers.

EY says that India's power sector is at the threshold of a paradigm shift and will materialize through three key events:

  • Parity in solar power and conventional electricity generation cost
  • Energy storage cost is cheaper than electricity transmission costs
  • Price of electric vehicles reaches cost and performance parity with internal combustion engine vehicles

These technological changes could be seen as disruptions. But they also could be seen as opportunities to be captured by embracing digital technologies 

Moreover, utilities could enhance productivity by using technologies such as robotics process automation and mobile workforce management, EY says. 

The bottom line for utilities is to truly innovate to address a changing customer, a collision of technologies, aging infrastructure and workforce, a new competitive market and growing stakeholder expectations. Thus, utilities must adapt quickly as they need to be customer-centric, hyper-connected, proactive and predictive, adaptive, automated, and performance focused.

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