In South Asia, the Indian government last week approved the creation of a national smart grid organisation that will see the country investing US$210 million (Rs.980 crore) into planning, monitoring and implementing grid modernization up until 2017.

The government signed off the National Smart Grid Mission last Thursday with Power Minister Piyush Goyal confirming that the budget for the 12th plan from 2012-17 is US$210 million with a budgetary support of US$72 million (Rs.338 crore).

Mr Goyal said the mission, first mooted early last year, aims to implement a smart grid based on the latest technology in automation, communication and IT systems that can monitor and control power flows from points of generation to points of consumption.

The National Smart Grid Mission will have a three-tier structure consisting of a council sitting within the power ministry, a committee at the second level and technical group at a third level headed by the chairperson of the Central Electricity Authority, the advisory body to government on electricity policy.

The minister confirmed that the smart grid body will issue 100% grants for selected functions such as training and capacity building and consumer engagement, while projects are eligible for investment of up to 30% of the costs.

Smart grid potential

Research findings released at the beginning of the year forecast India to invest US$21.6 billion in smart grid infrastructure in the next decade in a bid to curb rampant electricity theft, making it the largest long-term smart grid opportunity in the world.

This is the prediction from a new study published today by US company Northeast Group, which sets non-technical losses in India at US$16.2 billion a year.

India's government has already committed billions of dollars in funding for smart grid infrastructure, said Ben Gardner, President of Northeast Group, and cumulative spending is forecasted to top US$21 billion over the period 2015-2025.

Mr Gardner said: "India loses more money to theft than any other country in the world.

"The state of Maharashtra—which includes Mumbai—alone loses US$2.8bn per year, more than all but eight countries in the world.

He added: "Nationally, total transmission and distribution losses approach 23% and some states' losses exceed 50%. Most Indian utilities are financially unsustainable."

(This news story is from Metering International)