Before the pandemic, according to both the World Bank and the IEA, there had been noteworthy progress in electricity access among rural populations across Asia. Specifically, in South Asia electrification for rural residents went from 45% in 2000 to almost doubling to 87% in 2018. The electrification among the total population in countries including Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia has gone from under 20% in 2000 to over 70% in 2020.
Although the statistics look impressive, the numbers do not paint a complete picture of the true energy condition in these countries. Ensuring the electrification of rural areas is essential but typically these areas oftentimes find their electricity lacks consistency and reliability.
As a tool to combat intermittency, smart meters are an excellent solution to enhance reliability of electric grids which can highlight outages for utilities with greater precision. Smart meters transmit on-site electricity consumption data in sub-hourly intervals and this data could translate to less power outages while maximising reliability for electricity customers.
Smart meters ensure enhanced control of the electrical grid and provide a number of advantages related to grid operational cost. The Meters and More AISBL General Manager, Carlo Maria Drago, believes there are three natural areas of benefits which ASEAN grids could benefit.
“The first, reduced operational costs such as meter reading, fault management, contract management followed by the second which is increased revenues (i.e. on-time and accurate billing, fraud management). Lastly, I see an area of benefits related to improved network intelligence and control which is really the first and important step into the future of smart grids,” Carlo shared.
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The future growth of smart grids and meters within the ASEAN market is predicted to have a healthy increase, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.76% by 2024. A continued high growth is expected in the smart market mainly driven by the increase of renewables within the energy mix as well as growing market saturation of decentralized power generation.
Further evidence of the expansion of smart grids is apparent in Malaysia where a smart meter movement is beginning. The country is aiming for an all-encompassing adoption of smart meters with a projected 9.1 million homes to be fitted with smart meters by 2026. Earlier this year and to back this ambitious objective, TNB fitted more than one million smart meters and it was reported that they are investing RM9 billion (US$2.1 billion) annually in the next four years.
In Indonesia the recent release of the RUPTL 2021-2030 on 27th September 2021, highlighted the vast growth of smart meters as a key target. Indonesia’s Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources (ESDM) aims to reach 1 million smart meter users, for electricity connections by 2022.
“The installation of Smart Meters is prioritised for potential consumers and suitable areas for the AMI (Advanced Metering Infrastructure) infrastructure development,” said Sugeng Prahoro, of Electricity Consumer Protection.
Carlo agrees and highlighted that AMI is a crucial beginning to grid modernization in the roadmap to the smartgrids.
“AMI also solves basic customer management issues while deploying a first set of intelligent devices, edge computing and distributed control can be built on. ASEAN can leverage the learnings from twenty years of AMI experience while including new forefront functionalities required by the emerging smart grid models,” he shared.
Carlo said there is a real opportunity for ASEAN countries to ‘leap-frog’ the challenging aspects of the beginning of when smart technologies were adopted to how much they have advanced today. ASEAN countries have the upper hand because they can streamline processes based on knowledge and tech from the past and today.
“The transition from traditional smart metering to smartgrid metering is the current field our organisation is focusing upon and it is an excellent opportunity for ASEAN countries to join the efforts and begin their adoption path,” Carlo concluded.