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Developing an IoT Based Energy Distribution Analytics System In Rural India

OrxaGrid partnered with an electricity distribution utility that faced high technical & commercial losses and frequent power outages.

The Challenge

As part of its operating license, the distribution utility is obligated to provide electricity to several low-income consumers that were spread out across a wide geographical area. The utility required a solution that would enable it to provide reliable and affordable electricity to its rural and low-income customers.

OrxaGrid was tasked with designing a low-cost technology for automation and business process improvement, focusing on monitoring power supply, proper planning, decision support, taking corrective actions as well as increasing transparency of power flow.

The Solution: An IoT based system

OrxaGrid deployed its unique, entirely Internet of Things (IOT) based system. The system constituted sensors for data collection and an Analytics Platform for data management, analysis and visualisation.

SEED sensors were deployed to measure feeder energy parameters and fault status. STEM sensors were installed on transformers to measure primary and secondary transformer readings as well as transformer condition.

The sensors communicated through HTTPS REST services using secure Machine to Machine cellular cards to the Analytics Platform deployed at the utility’s control centre. Monitoring data was centrally managed where advanced machine learning algorithms were applied to compute and predict the future usage and faults. Additionally, the sensors stored backup data onboard for extra reliability.

OrxaGrid enforced security using device specific logins to prevent unauthorised access and SSL Encryption for secure data transfer. The web and mobile enabled dashboards were designed to be intuitive and simplicity driven for use by both domain experts and non-technical users of the utility.

The Results

The project return on investment was apparent within days of implementation. Key results were:

  • Real time visibility into the network identified daily peak loading on transformers and energy on feeders

  • Locating outages in networks quickly, proactively and efficiently restoring power, thereby improving its reliability indices

  • Monitoring the condition of transformers to reduce maintenance downtimes

  • Automated SAIDI SAIFI reliability calculations benchmarked for fulfilling regulatory requirement and ensuring improvement in reliability

  • Identifying and predicting network violations such as over voltage, phase imbalance and excessive peak demands

  • Energy accounting identified lines and assets with the highest losses

  • Outage classifications identified that agricultural consumers had the most faults

  • Asset Health monitoring of transformers and DC batteries detected unreliable battery chargers

OrxaGrid’s IoT based solution proved to be a viable alternative to the distribution utility for not only monitoring their entire substations but also finding key efficiency improvement insights. The system was scalable through retroactive addition of sensors from other substations in other divisions of the utility. The system was also interoperable where existing data sources from metering or SCADA could be fed into the system for deriving insights.


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