Power Quality Awareness: Possibility of change

Published On: Sep 28, 2017


Your fitness-band can monitor your fitness in real time. Why can’t we do the same thing with Power Quality? Well, we can. You can better manage what you can measure and visualize. Just as the fitness band makes you more aware of what’s happening so you can adjust your performance – for example eat less and walk more. In the same manner, awareness about the PQ events occurring in your system will help you find the right solution or prevent major breakdown due to PQ issues thereby maintaining health of the electrical network.

Many Power Quality monitoring devices and equipment ranging from INR 16,000 to INR 15 lakh are available in the market but customers are hardly aware of their availability and its benefits. This lack of awareness of PQ is a key aspect which has propagated the adverse PQ events. Because of the dynamic nature of power quality events, customers are rarely aware that a power quality event has taken place. Even if a customer is aware, the expertise and technology required to diagnose and confirm power-quality issues are not accessible. The situation needs immediate intrusion, as the Utilities & High-end industries haven’t matured on the PQ concept yet. Also, due to this unawareness, there has been limited or no efforts in maintaining proper PQ environment.

We bring this blog suggesting steps and initiatives which must be taken for creating PQ awareness that will help in reducing its related issues and will possibly bring a positive change in the way PQ is managed.

NEED FOR PQ AWARENESS

In the developing world, roughly 1.2 billion people do not have access to electricity. Of this, at least 30% live in India. In addition, at least 247 million people in India experience irregular access to electricity, with many receiving only around 4 hours of electricity supply a day. Also, the quality of electricity service provision remains poor, as revealed by India’s infamous 2012 blackout, in which 680 million people were affected. Hence, India’s electricity problem is not just about insufficient coverage, it is also about poor power quality and its awareness & mitigation.

As per one of the research study conducted by International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research, in April-2012, worldwide key barriers were reported in scaling-up of PQ, where 18.82% accounted for end-user ignorance. The study also mentioned key barriers faced by India, which is almost similar to Worldwide barriers. Hence it is quite evident that one of the blockade for PQ improvement is its lack of awareness.

To tackle the problem of lack of awareness, it is important to use a holistic, all-encompassing approach. For instance, a lifestyle disease Diabetes, often a silent killer, won’t be cured unless detected and addressed with basic lifestyle change like diet, exercise, etc. Likewise, it is important to have an adequate understanding of power quality issues because its mitigation will happen only if one is aware of it.

INITIATIVES REQUIRED FOR CREATING PQ AWARENESS

There are several initiatives that can be taken for spreading power quality awareness at all levels. Below are some of the recommended actions for effective PQ awareness among all stakeholders to possibly change the PQ environment:

  • Conduct PQ Education Programme through Training/Workshops:

    Solving PQ disturbances requires training courses and programmes which run continuously. These programmes will give enough training and knowledge for end-users and utility employees who lack PQ awareness. The emphasis in conducting such programmes will be to raise awareness in the users and thus encourage employees in turn to find specific techniques for resolving PQ issues across the distribution systems. Therefore, educating the end users and utility engineers through workshops and seminars is crucial. Such activities will promote familiarity with PQ definitions and disturbances. It also would support DISCOMs to achieve high levels of PQ performance.

  • Conduct Customer Education Camps:

    The customers such as agricultural, industrial, commercial and residential induce some pollution in electrical system like voltage dips (due to heavy load) or harmonics (due to nonlinear load) from their side. Such customers should be made aware of ill effect of poor PQ by taking up customer education camps. Co-operation should be taken from these customers by convincing them to install PQ instruments and mitigation measures either on their cost or on utility cost. Further, they must be made aware that investment in PQ mitigation equipment is not a cost but an investment for insurance coverage for critical operation, preventing highly sensitive equipment from high losses in the long run.

  • Develop Research & Development centers:

    Most of the state-owned power transmission and distribution utilities pay limited attention to PQ issues due to lack of awareness. Deep research by R&D centers working towards possible PQ solutions, at low cost, is necessary. Not many utilities are thinking on harmonic distortions and effect of harmonics on transformers/ consumer equipment. Hence, comprehensive thinking is need of the hour in every aspect of PQ.

  • Form PQ Council:

    Forming a Power Quality Council will be a key step in making PQ a key part of discussion in the Energy sector and bringing all stakeholders on a common platform. This council will include key stakeholders like OEMs and PQ experts who will drive policy changes and harmoniously develop regulation & standards in the country. It will act as a common voice for power quality. This will be a platform to discuss PQ issues and draw remedial action plans that will bring change in the way PQ is managed.

  • Provide PQ Reading course for students:

    There is a penchant for today’s industry in getting waylaid by technology solutions while ignoring basics of strong, reliable electrical network. The approach is more in inverted manner rather than addressing basics first. This requires deeper understanding of PQ issues for example weak neutral, unbalance, lack of proper earthing etc. that manifests into serious PQ challenges for industry in digital economy. A well-structured PQ reading course with necessary state of the art training will help in creating skilled resources having in-depth knowledge of PQ. It will not only create awareness of the PQ challenges faced by the industry amongst students but they can also contribute to solving PQ issues through innovative solutions.

CONCLUSION

Power Quality awareness is one of the key factor that has the potential to bring a positive change in the energy sector. It will bring an assurance that PQ issues will decline as awareness increases. Moreover, as the awareness level increases, utilities and customers will begin to recognize the concerns which affect the operation of their equipment. This awareness will thereby lead to adoption of right PQ mitigation solutions and improved PQ in the network. Hence, for betterment of the overall industry concerted collaborative efforts by different stakeholders is the need of the hour.

REFERENCES

  1. Power Quality Programme Awareness: Framework for Developing Countries by Saad Saleh Sultan, May 2013
  2. “Power Quality Issues In Indian Power Distribution Utilities And Feasible Solutions” by Narasimha Pandit, Dr. R.L. Chakrasali, International Journal Of Scientific & Technology Research, Volume 6, Issue 05, May 2017
  3. Short interview with Syscon Energy Conservation Pvt. Ltd company’s PQ equipment sales head, India
  4. “Open data for developing economies case studies” by Michael P. Canares, Anirudh Dinesh, Andrew Young and Stefaan Verhulst
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