Issues and Challenges in HEMS

As the cost of energy is going up and there is a real need to conserve energy both for the sake of cost as well as for environment, there is a great interest in how home area network systems could be useful for these initiatives. There would always be different schools of thought on the relevance on the same.

The major difference can be attributed to the cost of adoption and what need to be done for the same.The issues can be listed as follows:(a) Technology Availability(b) Viability of the Adoption(c) Eco-system development(d) Availability of standards(e) Regulatory position(f) Role of distribution companies(g) Consumer reach(h) Consumer training(i) Adoption models(j) ….Technology AvailabilityAt this high-tech stage, technology is definitely available for implementation of HEMS for the energy management which includes, energy data availability, data visualization, multiple channel access, real time or near real time access of the data, demand control and appliance control etc. There are already solutions in the market. They may not yet be stitched together in the right format.Adoption ViabilityA very important question is the cost of adoption and whether there is return on investment. The adoption has to be seen both from new systems as well as from retrofit perspective. There are partial solutions available for new adoption or retrofit. Globally, there are proven solutions as well. The cost of technology in India however is high compared to the business case. The cost would go down with the high adoption automatically. There is a still a lot of work which needs to be done as far as the adoption feasibility and cost of adoption is concerned.Eco-systems DevelopmentThe eco-system would consist of stakeholders such as consumers, distribution companies, vendors such as metering companies, system integrators and appliance / consumer electronics companies, regulators, standard setting bodies etc. In India, currently the weakest link in this chain is the appliance /consumer electronics companies. Many of these companies have the relevant technology at the fundamental level but they do not really have technology at the adoption level in India. One of high priority today is to bring all these stakeholders on a common minimum page.Availability of StandardsAs there are multiple technologies and protocols involved, the standards or minimum common standards would play a very important role. There are technologies such as zigbee, WiFi, Android@home, smartplug etc. which are being developed and adopted world-wide. It is not necessary that one of them, gets adopted and others get rejected in India. The standards are needed to ensure that one or other of these technologies have enough standardization to enable device manufactures, appliance manufacturers and buyers to have investment protection.Regulatory PositionThere is no regulator which has the mandate to look at this space. The regulators such as electricity regulators, BEE etc. are playing a role at the fringe. In some ways, it is good that the segment is not regulated. It though still needs to be established that there is no conflict with the electricity distribution, energy efficiency, appliance rating etc. One of the important areas is whether HAN can be utilized for demand response and what would be the position of the electrical regulators for the same.Role of distribution companiesThe distribution companies can play a stellar role in the evolution and adoption of HEMS, if they want to do so. They can play it to their advantage, remain neutral and become mute spectator of HAN adoption or pay a spoil sport. Prima facie, the HEMS would be adopted by high value consumers.Consumer ReachHow can one reach the consumers with the technology or with the solution? This is the most difficult task in the entire chain. Utilities can play an important role for reaching the consumers. The other segments which can play an important role are builders / architects, appliance companies and telecom companies. These are the segments which have a very close interaction with the consumers.Adoption ModelsNow come to the crux on how the model would be adopted. Would a consumer need to make investment in the solution and maintain the solution? Can the cost of maintenance be minimized? One of the best possible adoption model is the cloud computing. A service provider (an existing or new) can provide the services on the cloud so that the cost of maintenance and upgrade be kept to the minimum. It is seen as a huge market opportunity and may give rise to a completely new generation of companies who may tap this segment and provide a viable solution for the clients.We have discussed the issues and challenges briefly. Please share your thoughts

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