Applying PEER in India: Setting a benchmark for sustainable energy performance

Applying PEER in India: Setting a benchmark for sustainable energy performance
Mili Majumdar and Ishaq Sulthan

The energy sector in India has adopted transformative initiatives and reforms to encourage equitable and efficient energy generation and supply. Initiatives that have delivered positive results so far have focused on addressing transmission and distribution losses, reviving debt-hit distribution companies, delivering clean and green power efficiently and recognizing performance measurement of designated consumers.

A significant move came in October 2018, when India committed to targeting 40 percent of its electricity generation from renewable energy. The country is on track to meet that goal, with the present share being at 20 percent.

Economic growth powered by efficiency and environmentally clean energy is a win-win combination. In addition to a delivery system’s economic and financial viability, three critical pillars that need to be addressed are reliability, resiliency and environmental impact. Our demand/supply curve has seen major improvement in past years. A 12.7 percent peak deficit was recorded in 2009–2010 and was drastically reduced to 0.8 percent in 2018–2019.

However, with heavy focus on renewables, Distributed Energy Resources (DER) and electric vehicles, India's grid needs to be more dynamic, stable and adaptive to the changing needs of consumers and the profile and energy mix of producers. The resilience of power system infrastructure is the lifeline of any critical asset, and recent power failures in hospitals and similar critical assets during storms and floods has taken a human toll.

Supporting India’s sustainable energy transformation

There is an imminent need for a comprehensive framework that evaluates the holistic triple-bottom-line performance of power systems, be it at utility level or microgrid level. GBCI and USGBC, known for its transformative global green building rating system LEED, see PEER as an equally relevant solution that evaluates and certifies electricity infrastructure and power system performance, based on factors such as environmental and energy efficiency, reliability, resiliency and consumer satisfaction index.

PEER complements and adds value to existing UDAY and PAT programs of the government of India. For example, while the UDAY program evaluates the financial stability of DISCOMs by measuring the difference between average cost of supply and average revenue realized, PEER provides further value because of its requirement for a triple-bottom-line analysis and need to refine operational processes.

Additionally, PEER certifies utilities based on its power quality capabilities, reliability performance compared to global benchmarks, flattening of the load duration curve, distribution redundancy, clean power and several other measures. These elements combined allow the industry to make decisions that prioritize the needs of people, while reducing the impact on the environment and ensuring an economically stable energy system.

How PEER is transforming utilities and DISCOMs

PEER is a perfect tool for utilities to advance performance and deliver meaningful outcomes. Around the world, utilities like Ameren, Glasgow Electric Power Board (EPB) in Kentucky, Tata Power Delhi Distribution Limited (Tata Power–DDL) and Chattanooga EPB have used PEER to continuously monitor and evaluate grid infrastructure. All their efforts have led to improved reliability, grid resilience and customer satisfaction.

In India, Tata Power–DDL set the benchmark as the first utility in the country to become PEER-certified. Tata Power–DDL distributes electricity in North and North West parts of Delhi and serves to a population of 7 million. With a registered consumer base of 1.64 million and a peak load of around 1967 MW (recorded in July 2018), the company's operations span an area of 510 square kilometers.

Tata Power–DDL has the Advanced Distribution Management System (ADMS) integrating SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition), DMS (Distribution Management System) and OMS (Outage Management System) on a single platform, which has the capability of performance monitoring, tracking and control of the distribution network, fault and outage management and network performance optimization across the 1123 circuits.

Using this technology, Tata Power–DDL can now effectively manage peak demand and quickly restore power during outages, especially in times of emergency or disaster situations. Additionally, to reduce interruptions and build the system for resiliency, 50 percent of their cables are underground, and the electrical infrastructure vulnerable to flooding was identified and elevated as per the guidelines of the Central Electricity Authority.

Through application of PEER, Tata Power–DDL is now able to plan improvements, which includes reducing sustained interruptions, increasing its renewable energy portfolio and rolling out of smart meters. These strategies have the potential to help Tata Power–DDL further reduce its energy cost in the long term.

Stories like these and others show how PEER can serve as a new, transformative initiative for India, and set a global standard for sustainable power system performance and grid modernization efforts.