FILE image of electricity powerlines at sunset.
JOHANNESBURG - Integrated smart power grids can help make electricity more accessible and affordable, especially in African rural areas, but government regulations and policies sometimes stand in the way, an expert has said.
“Smart processes and state-of-the-art systems are completely changing the way that power can be managed and how utilities interact with their customers," said Abraham Ortega, a consultant at electrical equipment and solutions provider Hexing.
"However, one of the biggest challenges in many jurisdictions is that existing government regulations and policies do not always allow operators to implement the financial and billing systems to make them work," he told delegates at the African Utility Week conference in Cape Town.
Smart grids are electricity supply networks that use digital communications technology to detect and react to local changes in usage.
Ortega said Big Data and the Internet of Things were driving technological changes and solutions that could make a significant contribution towards making power in rural regions more affordable for consumers, while at the same time benefiting utilities by making operations more efficient and cost effective.
Internet of Things refers to the interconnection via the Internet of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data. Big data is data sets whose size or type is beyond the ability of traditional relational databases to capture, manage, and process.
“With the right regulatory changes, advanced metering structures, the widespread adoption of standards, renewables, as well as technologies such as microgrids, many regions in Africa can enjoy the benefits of electricity provided in an affordable and reliable manner,” Ortega said.