A few years ago China was making news for its efforts to produce power for its 1.3 billion people. The news focused on the Chinese government’s building two new coal plants a week to keep pace with demand.

Truly India is not far behind, in both its need for electricity for its 1 billion potential consumers and its efforts to modernize its grid. Just a few weeks ago India made news for bringing a nuclear reactor into the grid – its 20th – a headline not seen in the United States in more than 30 years.

Of course building supply is one thing, delivering it is another. India is very focused on making its current grid smarter, and where it is building more infrastructure, to create the most modern grid possible.

In that light, it was no surprise that one of our own received such a warm welcome in December in travels across that broad country. Larry Cochrane, our Worldwide Utilities Technology Strategist, made a whirlwind trip visiting with a number of the leading companies, partners, and government agencies responsible for the development and transformation of India’s electric grid. As one of the primary authors of the Smart Energy Reference Architecture, a framework available to guide utilities with the implementation of the smart grid, Larry was shuttled from Bangalore to New Delhi offering his counsel on large-scale smart grid efforts underway in India.

clip_image002[6]In partnership with USAID Partner Tetratech, Cochrane kicked-off his India tour with Vikram Manchanda, Microsoft’s Power & Utilities Business Development Manager in India, by participating in a Smart Energy Workshop in Bangalore. USAID is funding a smart grid pilot at the Bangalore Distribution Utility BESCOM and a number of its high-ranking officials were in attendance, along with representatives from Honeywell, ICSA and C-STEP.

Cochrane went on to New Delhi for the Transmission and Smart Metering Conference where he presented on the complex topic of ‘Integration of Renewables into the Grid.’ In addition to India’s quest for a more efficient grid, India is focused on adding renewable power in large quantity to its resource portfolio.  Cochrane was also able to participate in another workshop in New Delhi with more than 40 utility customers and partners.  The workshop’s opening panel set the tone for very intense discussions among Kapil Mohan, the Indian Joint Secretary and Director General of Bureau of Energy Efficiency, Mr. S K Soonee, the CEO of POSOCO, Mr. Sanjay Banga, General Manager of North Delhi Power Limited, and Dr. Rahul Tongia, a faculty member at Carnegie Mellon University. In other meetings, Larry met with Mr. Soonee and team at India’s Power Grid Corporation, Mr. Mohan of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency, Schneider Electric, Alstom Grid, Itron, and Ferranti.

clip_image002India has a unique power market and Microsoft finds it very invigorating to be a part of providing solutions to address the challenges India faces, including the diligent effort to reduce the line and “social” losses of 33 percent of the power it produces.  India is also considering how to add modern transmission and distribution infrastructure in a way that will naturally introduce a smart grid from inception, a contrast to the add-ons common to North America and Europe.  India is investing some $10.5 billion of its treasury in a new direction for power production and rationalization.  Considering India is such an integral part of the world economy, especially for the provision of IT services, both Japan and the U.S. Trade Development Agency are making significant investments in the India grid.  

With all this positive momentum, it’s exciting to be a part of this transformation in one of the world’s most dynamic energy markets.  As could be expected, Cochrane’s conversations centered on SERA, standards, security and use of the cloud for this ambitious effort.  We believe Microsoft will be continuing this dialogue for a long time to come! – Jon C. Arnold