Exclusive Interview- Smart Meters: A Stepping Stone for Efficient Power Management in the Country
Electricity in India is a mode of transformation as it contributes to the country’s sustainable socio-economic development. All power sector reforms are driven by the aim of adequate access to equitable and optimally priced electricity that is sustainable. Given the sector’s relevance and growing concerns around the availability of fuels like coal and high power generation costs the power sector demands cost and power-efficient resources that minimise energy loss and smart meters play a major role in it. Silicon Labs’ smart electricity metering and advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), is an exemplary model of its commitment to revolutionizing energy management. With smart meters, utility companies can eliminate the need for manual meter readings and can monitor and control meters remotely. During a chat with Nitisha; Abhijit Grewal, Marketing Director for Industrial and Commercial Business Unit, Silicon Labs highlights the continuous and timely monitoring of smart meters. He also talks about digital transformation, the demand of smart meters, and its benefits for the Indian economy.
How smart metering is the first step toward the transformation of economies? Kindly talk about the application and benefits of smart metering to the Indian economy.
Smart metering is a crucial step toward the transformation of economies as it provides a way to measure and monitor energy consumption in a more efficient and accurate manner. In India, the implementation of smart metering has the potential to bring numerous benefits to the economy and its citizens. The Indian government has launched a major smart metering initiative aimed at installing 250 million smart meters across the country by 2025. This initiative will go a long way to make India efficient in power distribution and usage.
Smart metering will play a critical role in addressing these concerns by allowing efficient distribution and utilization of energy resources. Bringing operational efficiency enabling integration of renewable energy resources and thus, strengthening financial efficiency, can increase revenue for electricity utilities in India and contribute to its economy. It will improve energy access for millions of people in rural and urban environments.
Remote monitoring is another aspect that will provide smart metering an upper hand in India. It will allow the government, municipalities, and users to get an accurate insight into their energy usage and further utilize it rationally. Smart metering will open channels to promote the use of renewable energy sources in India by providing data on energy usage patterns that can be used to optimize the integration of renewable energy into the grid. All in all, smart metering will empower government institutions and citizens to alter the economy of the nation.
How can security be ensured in smart metering? Elaborate.
Smart metering paves the way for modern energy management systems by accurate monitoring and control over energy consumption however, security is a critical challenge to overcome in smart metering. With energy consumption data stored in the cloud, it raises the risk of data security threats and privacy breaches. Security can be ensured by steps in both the development and application stages. Manufacturers must consider security as critical in the design and provide constant updates to the consumers. We consider security as mission-critical at Silicon Labs where our hardware and software are secured at all levels to safeguard your devices from physical and wireless attacks. Our Secure Vault enabled the world’s first SoCs (System on Chip) with the PSA Level 3 certification, which reflects upon our commitment to enable our clients in developing secure products. Silicon Labs’ FG25 Sub-GHz SoC is a compact and cost-effective solution with advanced security features including 128-bit AES encryption and has been leveraged by CyanConnode, a global leader in RF mesh technology, in supporting India with its smart metering goal.
In implementation, security can be ensured by restricting the access of these devices on the ground level. Additionally, regular security assessments to identify and address vulnerabilities in the system and routinely upgrading software systems can help secure the grid.
Silicon Labs plans to implement Smart metering in India and its partnership with CyanConnode to support smart metering in India.
Smart Metering is one of the fastest-growing IoT markets in India. Silicon Labs’ FG25 System-on-Chip (SoC) which was just made generally available in India, will certainly help address the growing need for intelligent, connected devices in cities and other municipal environments. With its ability to operate with minimal data loss at a range of up to 1.6 kilometers in urban and rural environments, CyanConnode, a leader in RF mesh technology, has chosen to use our technology to support India’s smart metering solutions by offering high-quality products. Cyan Connode has been supporting India’s smart metering market for over a decade now and utilizes Wi-SUN in its technology solutions to provide communication between smart meters and the central system, enabling utilities to collect real time information about energy consumption and manage their networks more effectively. CyanConnode is also utilizing Silicon Labs’ FAN-certified Wi-SUN stack which comes with an array of benefits like advanced security, mesh networking, and routing capabilities that reduce time and cost. We continue to assist CyanConnode in its role of supporting the Government of India’s vision of connecting 250 million homes with smart meters and will continue to add more to all of our clients, providing them with scalable solutions.
Kindly talk about the smart city living lab, which has been set up in collaboration with IIIT Hyderabad for innovative street-lighting applications.
Silicon Labs is proud to be the founding corporate partner of the IIIT-Hyderabad-based Smart City Living Lab, which supports research and development to enhance safety, sustainability, and general quality of life in cities. We unveiled India’s first campus-wide Wi-SUN network last year, starting with an innovative street lighting application that will serve as the framework for developing prospective smart city applications.
This project is a huge push for research and smart cities in India under the Smart Cities Mission. Various IoT verticals and research projects pertaining to air quality, building energy, water quantity and quality, street lights, etc. are present on the IIITH campus to gain expertise in IoT application through data and ensure viable IoT innovation in India. Transforming and enabling smart cities in India is a reflection of our commitment to making life smarter and better through IoT innovation.
What kind of new products Silicon Labs is planning to launch in the upcoming time?
A big focus for us is adding more intelligence to IoT, so as the next step in our IoT leadership we are looking at how we can embed machine learning at the far edge. We’ve already released SoCs for WiFi, Bluetooth, and multiprotocol support with built-in machine-learning accelerators that are accelerating that effort.
Kindly highlight the pros and cons of smart meters and its demand.
Smart meters are advanced and automatic energy meters that have the potential to alter the energy industry by allowing customers and municipalities to monitor and optimize their energy usage in real time. Smart meters provide an array of benefits, one of which is that it eliminates the need for manual meter reading, which can benefit both consumers and energy providers by conserving time and money. They can also aid in lowering carbon emissions and enhancing grid stability by enabling utilities to manage energy demand more effectively. However, smart metering brings its own concerns around privacy and data security, as they collect and transmit personal data about energy consumption. Manufacturers must ensure grid and device security in the development stage itself. Additionally, the high cost of installation may make it challenging for low-income households to adopt. This concern can be addressed with government support and facilities.
Despite these concerns, there is a growing demand for smart meters in India, where the government is pushing for a transition to a more sustainable energy system. The Indian government has set a target of installing 250 million smart meters by 2025, which could bring significant benefits to the country’s energy sector.
What are your future marketing strategies for the growth of the company?
At Silicon Labs, the expansion of our wireless networking technology, which is tailored for use in the Internet of Things (IoT). With the Indian market rapidly developing, we recognize the potential opportunity in India and are prepared to service the market as it grows. With India, we aim to provide a selection of smart solutions that are suitable for the country. By investing in research and development, we hope to strengthen IoT development in India and the world. Our wireless development center located in Hyderabad showcases our increasing dedication to innovation for our Indian and global customers, by creating a wireless ecosystem that is more secure and connected.
Silicon Labs is also a founding corporate partner of the Smart City Living Lab, which is a joint initiative with IIIT-Hyderabad. Through this collaboration, we are involved in IoT and smart city research and development with the aim of enhancing safety, sustainability, and the overall standard of living in growing cities. Research and development is our core priority marketing-wise.