Smart Electricity for Emerging Markets

Conference in Mumbai brings together leaders in the field

21 November 2014

So-called smart electricity—which refers to the interconnection of different sources of energy, including solar and wind—requires many technological advances, such as sophisticated software programs and upgraded transmission systems, to help utilities run more efficiently. To help expand the adoption of these technologies in emerging markets, IEEE has partnered with the Indian Electrical and Electronics Manufacturers’ Association to host a joint conference on the theme of “Smart Electricity for Emerging Markets,” which will cover topics such as sustainability, smart-grid innovations, and electricity for remote regions.

The IEEE-IEEMA Intelect Conference and Exposition will be held from 22 to 24 January in Mumbai, bringing together some 500 participants along with several thousand visitors to its exhibition, which will be open to the public. The goal of the conference is to break through the silos in the power and energy industry and improve the field as a whole by sharing the latest concepts and the latest technologies.

“The technological advancements that will shape the way we will consume electricity in our homes, offices, hotels, and hospitals are now happening in isolation,” says Sunil Misra, director general of IEEMA. “At Intelect, we are trying to bring together all those working toward intelligent uses of electricity, rather than having separate, narrowly focused events for each part of the ecosystem.”

IEEE is especially looking for ways to break down silos among its societies, says IEEE Life Senior Member Tommy Mayne, vice president for meetings and conferences for the IEEE Power & Energy Society (PES). Because the smart grid of the future must rely on an array of technologies, several societies will be taking part at Intelect, including PES, the IEEE Computer Society, and the IEEE Communications Society.

Along with the exhibition, talks, and panel discussions, attendees will also be able to experience firsthand the technologies being used for smart electricity. “If you don’t already know what smart, integrated technology could do, this exhibit and conference will demonstrate it,” says Mayne.

A DIFFERENT APPROACH

The conference will steer away from technical papers and instead focus on interaction among participants, featuring a host of panel sessions, discussions, and keynotes. The goal is to have attendees talking about how to work together and how, collectively, to advance the field from where we are today, Mayne says. He hopes participants will stay away from small-ticket items, such as how a piece of equipment works, and instead focus on a future where electricity can be sustainable, efficient, and available to all.

Many of the sessions will be divided into tracks, including: Digital Smart Cities; H3O, short for smart uses of electricity for homes, hotels, and hospitals; Humanitarian, covering how smart electricity affects and serves society; and Microgrids and Renewables.

Microgrids are especially important in India. Because there is a lack of power lines long enough to reach remote regions, and most power generation is far away from consumers, microgrids minimize transmission losses by covering a smaller area using shorter lines. These grids generate electricity locally and are more reliable sources of power for these areas, explains IEEE Senior Member Bruce McMillin, who is part of the IEEE Computer Society’s Computing and Smart Grid Special Technical Community. There is a huge advantage to having more local control and generation, he says, adding that microgrids will be a hot topic at the conference. 

EXHIBITION HALL

Intelect’s three pavilions will echo the conference tracks, one being the Microgrids and Rural Smart Electrification pavilion, which will cover microgrid designs for powering rural areas. The H3O pavilion will feature smart electricity for homes, hotels, and hospitals, such as systems that are able to adapt to the amount of energy usage needed in specific environments. And the Digital Smart City pavilion will demonstrate a model of smart-city technologies and infrastructure as well as its impact on everyday work, life, and transport.

McMillin, who helped design the pavilions, says visitors will be able to observe how to deal with such concerns as voltage instability and brownouts, in which utilities intentionally drop the voltage level to reduce the load. Attendees will also learn how electric cars will be integrated into the grid.

The exhibition hall will also show what organizers suggest are the 10 top global innovations in intelligent electricity. One section will be devoted to India’s smart-grid high-voltage transmission and distribution system, one of the country’s numerous government initiatives to electrify areas without electricity. One aspect is electricity distribution at and below 11 kilovolts—the voltage delivered by India’s substations for local distribution—as well as the government’s initiative to replace AC with safer, more efficient DC power.

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