With the imple-mentation of RGGVY scheme, the requirement of single phase meters has become more and more. The financially crunched utilities are struggling hard to buy good quality meters with communication facility, as returns from these meters are meager, but at the same time they have to come up with the technology for electrical meters underway in many other countries. Here an attempt is made to go through various phases of this sector over the past few decades and years to come.
From the century old rotating wheel or Ferraris meter or electro mechanical meter, Utilities in India are following the trend in utilities in other parts of the world. With the advent of electronics and IT, the technology behind electrical meters underway tremendously but there is still many unanswered questions surrounding the best implementation system.
The statistics about metering in India is quite astonishing. One of our neighboring states has about 5 million mechanical meters still in service.30 per cent of the meters in India are still with counter type display system on which any tampering can be done. Many utililities have just only stopped purchasing electro-mechanical meters. Now the utilities are considering LCD meters as the most sophisticated one's as many readings can be obtained at the same time. With this background an effort is made to analyze the latest status of metering in India. Since India lives in villages and electrification of villages have not landed up anywhere, only single phase metering are discussed.
From electro mechanical meters the first development was static meters with ADE 7751 chips., being the first tolerant electronic meters by Analog Devices, monitoring both phase and neutral current and billing is based on the larger reading. Indian market also attracted towards it, by utilities changing their specifications to incorporate such features into tender documents. It also became a way for utilities to improve efficiency and for meter manufacturers to differentiate their designs.
The next development was ADE 7761 meter in which brought new concept of attending neutral missing. During these days the meters were neither electromechanical nor electronic but 'hyrid' in nature having the draw back of both.
By this time, Indian Power sector has adopted a new concept of AT&C losses leaving behind the age old concept of T&D losses. Low metering efficiency, tampering etc. were the main loss for the utilities. Through out the development of electronic energy meter, India has stood out as a feature rich, cost driven market where producing a meter that meets the advanced specifications the lowest cost is essential for the success.
The need for rich specification meters at very low cost has driven the single-phase metering market to widely adopt the system-on-chip (SoC) solution, which has rapidly become more popular than a two-chip solution. SoC technology combines the metering metrology with a low cost microcontroller and peripherals into a single package, thus reducing the overall cost of the meter. The SoC has met mixed success in various regions of the world.
A full range of measurement of active, reactive and apparent energy measurement is required to be done to prevent the various malpractices adopted by the consumers. This may be added up with a LCD driver also as a precaution. The presence of external battery input and related circuits ensures the system function in the absence of voltages also. Thus the simplified design along with ability to note down reading even in the absence of power has made the system acceptable to all utilities. Many meter manufacturers have come up with design suitable to above solutions.
The automated meter reading (AMR) network have provided sufficient incentives for many utilities to commence wide - scale deployments of such technology. KSEB is yet to commence AMR.Apart from metering cost, removal of existing meter, replace with AMR etc will be saved by the savings in man power required to manually read the meter. But due to the comparatively less labour rate in Inda, it's possible when many utilities abroad done with high labour cost. A two way communication would also help to facilitate whether a particular consumer has to be disconnected or not. A lot of man power can be effectively utilized by adopting to AMR.When communication is incorporated, memory requirements also comes to play. This may be arrived in consultation with utility as it may vary from place to place. Thus before Indian utilities a number of options are available as far as single phase energy meter is concerned.
The RGGVY scheme has revealed astonishing figures in certain states like Arunachal Pradesh, UP, Bihar, Jharkhand, Assam, Orissa etc where majority of the house holds are still not electricfied.This shows the future of single phase energy meter is quite reasonable in India. But it remains to be seen that how many financially crunched states and utilities would change to such high end meters at the expense of few thousands and that would fetch only a couple of hundreds as revenue and this I apprehend may lead to again hybrid meters and Ferrari meters to trust worthy consumers which will continue to play a key role at least for a decade in Indian power sector.