India hopes a major investment into smart meters will help mitigate its widespread electricity theft problem

Smart grids to help India battle energy theft

India plans to invest billions of dollars into smart grid development over the next ten years to get electricity theft under control.

According to smart infrastructure consultancy Northeast Group, India’s economy loses up to $16.2bn a year due to widespread practice of electricity theft.

"India loses more money to theft than any other country in the world," said Ben Gardner, president of Northeast Group, which has just published a forecast of India’s smart grid market for the next decade.

"The state of Maharashtra – which includes Mumbai – alone loses $2.8bn per year, more than all but eight countries in the world. Nationally, total transmission and distribution losses approach 23 per cent and some states' losses exceed 50 per cent,” he said, adding that the excessive losses make Indian utilities financially unsustainable.

In November, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi agreed to launch a $4bn programme for deployment of smart meters with a further $8bn to be made available for further loss reduction programs.

Northeast Group said dozens of projects are getting underway across all of India’s 29 states with the cumulative spending for the 2015-2025 period expected to reach $21.6bn.

"India's electricity demand growth is set to exceed 7 per cent a year over the next decade," said Gardner. "In addition to smart metering, current pilot projects focus on distribution automation and wide area measurement, as well as home energy management and IT. Overall power sector investment will include adding 43 million new electricity connections and nearly three million kilometres of new circuits."

India is currently the largest open smart grid infrastructure market in the world, presenting new opportunities to international companies.

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