To Reduce Power Loss, India Looks For AI Solutions From IT Companies And Startups

To address high distribution losses, India's main concern in the electricity sector, the government aims to bring in artificial intelligence (AI) through existing IT businesses and startups.

India's AT&C losses are among the greatest in the world, surpassing even Bangladesh, posing a serious threat to the entire power sector's financial viability. In the power distribution sector, technology service providers will use artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain, and the Internet of Things to analyse data made available through consumer, transformer and feeder metering.

“According to Kumar India's average distribution losses are 20%, but several utilities lose between40 and 45 percent, and a few utilities lose more above 50%”

Discoms will be well equipped to make judgments on loss reduction, demand forecasting, differential tariff in a day, and renewable energy integration using innovative technologies.

“Increased technology interventions will aid in facilitating operational and financial sustainability of the distribution companies,"a senior government official said.

Around 14 discoms from nine states have expressed interest in AI solutions, including Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh.

Based on their offers, 4-5 technological service providers, 2-3 established companies, and 1- 2 startups would be shortlisted for each problem area in the identified discoms. Non starter TSPs would receive no financial help, whereas startup TSPs will receive a grant of up to Rs 40 lakh.

The designated agency for the programme, REC Ltd, has signed an MoU as an incubator cum technology partner with SINE under IIT Bombay. The challenge for finding technology service providers is scheduled to be announced soon by SINE Mumbai.

The plan is part of a Rs 3.03 lakh crore reform based and result linked scheme, with a corpus of Rs 4 crore approved for the first year by the power ministry.

"Huge data will be thrown up when we implement smart meters in a time bound manner. We are conscious that this data should be analysed intelligently in a way that it leads to good actionable points for the utility managers and for the policy makers," Power Secretary Alok Kumar said. He said once the AI models mature, they will be replicated across the country.

According to Kumar, India's average distribution losses are 20%, but several utilities lose between 40 and 45 percent, and a few utilities lose more above 50%.

According to available data, distribution losses in Bangladesh, which began electricity reforms considerably later, were 11.96 percent in 2018-19. “Set aside the other developed countries where T&D losses range from 4-6percent. As a result, India has a lot to learn and a lot to overcome” he remarked.