After signing multi-billion dollar deals for Reliance Retails and Jio Platforms, Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd now eyes smart electricity meter business to fulfill the government’s goal of replacing 250 million conventional meters.
According to the user base, RIL established the telecommunications division Jio in 2016 and has now become India’s largest telecommunications company.
Reliance Industries Ltd has also entered various fields, such as the retail and pharmaceutical sectors. Although the retail industry already exists, they hope to include both online and offline retail models, with wider connections and larger network modules. This seems to be a highly profitable model in the Indian subcontinent and is expected to become a strong competitor to the existing retail markets or Amazon and Flipkart online retail stores.
Now Reliance Industries Ltd. company wants to provide smart meter data, telecom, communication cards, and cloud hosting services to power hosting companies by its Jio Platforms business.
No doubt, power hosting companies (also known as discoms) are the weakest section in the electricity value chain. Its mainly plagued by low collections, mounting dues from a government department, increased power purchase costs, increased electricity prices, and insufficient subsidies.
Aggregate technical and commercial (AT&C) losses of India are around 22% and as of 31 March, the debt owed was ₹2.25 trillion to power generation and transmission firms.
The company’s AMI (Advanced Metering Infrastructure) business plan comes with the aim of cutting distribution losses against the backdrop of the Indian Electricity Smart Meter Program, which is the largest smart electricity program in the world.
India’s smart electricity program aims to replace over 230 million conventional meters to help raise annual revenues of debt-laden discoms to ₹1.39 trillion.
According to the sources, the Mukesh Ambani-owned firm is looking at the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) business and, Jio Platforms will provide these services through NB-IoT (Narrowband Internet of Things).
Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) is a low-power wide-area (LPWA) technology that can connect different types of new IoT devices and services. It helps to improve power consumption, spectrum efficiency, and build system capacity.
Jio Platforms has developed key next-generation technologies, including cloud computing, machine learning, data analysis, and AI among others which will play a key role in capturing the smart meter market for Reliance.
What is the Smart Meter?
A smart meter is an electronic device that can communicate in two directions i.e provide consumers with clearer consumer behavior information and provide power suppliers for system monitoring and customer billing information.
Advantages of Smart Meters-
- Two-way communication
- Helps reduce theft by identifying lost pockets.
- Control center tools
- Enable effective pricing
- Monitor electrical systems almost in real-time
- Minimize manual intervention in metering, billing, and collection
The government has been working hard to promote the implementation of smart meters to reduce losses for some time.
The reason for the implementation of smart meters is that smart meters are part of the overall AMI (Advanced Metering Infrastructure) solution, which can measure and record user power consumption at different times of the day, and by air communication technology it’ll send this data to the energy supplier.
This gives users better access to data and enables them to make more informed decisions about household electricity consumption, thereby reducing power wastage and providing long-term carbon and financial savings.
The smart metering system requires a two-way communication network and software to share, and control center equipment and software to collect data in real-time. The intelligent system transfers energy to the user.
India’s smart meter program is mainly aimed at reducing power distribution losses.
Analysts said that the Indian power industry is witnessing a steady transition to digitalization. The efficacy of smart meters has been proven during the nationwide lockdown. Compared with the problems faced by traditional meter technology, the average monthly income of each consumer has increased. Therefore, the government has been trying to leverage smart meters to reduce losses.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in this year’s budget speech: I urge all states and federal regions to replace traditional electricity meters with prepaid smart meters in the next three years. Moreover, this would give consumers the freedom to choose the supplier and rate as per their requirements.
The center’s UDAY (Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana) aims to improve the overall financial situation of the discoms with the implementation of 10% of the country’s total smart meter demand.
However, as of July 17, UDAY only reached 6% of the targeted smart meter for connections exceeding 500 kWh, while connections between 200-500 kWh reached 7% of the target.
Crisil Ratings said in a report in August that smart metering will help enhance the functionality of discoms by improving billing efficiency and reducing leakage. It added that the scale of financial investment required is the main obstacle to its development.
It added that India’s traditional electricity metering system is imperfect and inadequate, resulting in low metering, billing, and collection (MBC) efficiency, high business losses, and revenue loss.