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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Smart grid technologies for an equitable and sustainable clean energy transition: Case of Indian power system

Decarbonising while improving energy access is the predominant challenge facing the Indian energy system today. Smart grid technologies can transform the future of the energy system by overcoming the technical barriers of renewable energy integration and improving energy access through off-grid solutions. The challenges of transitioning the traditional grid into a smart grid have been well researched, but the interdependencies between the challenges and opportunities remain largely unknown. Understanding these interdependencies can reveal key focus areas to eliminate system barriers and ensure the smooth implementation of the smart grid. Furthermore, the implementation of smart grid technologies in the national grid and smart off-grid solutions in rural India have been studied independently, even though policies for smart grid implementation aim to solidify a unified approach. Thus, it is essential to identify key levers for eliminating barriers in both contexts and synchronising them to feed back into policies and roadmaps.

A systems analysis of the challenges and opportunities for implementing smart grid technologies in the national grid and smart off-grid solutions in rural India has been undertaken to analyse system interdependencies and identify key levers in both contexts to accelerate progress. The analysis revealed that the challenges and opportunities are interdependent through various reinforcing and balancing loops. Based on the emphasis placed on the challenges in the literature and expert stakeholder interviews, critical feedback loops are identified. Upon analysis of these loops, leverage points are identified to eliminate the barriers. The leverage points in the national grid include the creation of state-wise targets, standardization of technologies, and cyber security. The leverage points for off-grid enterprises include tariff regulation and establishing technical standards and exit options for developers. Finally, the implications of these leverage points on Indian smart grid policy are discussed and synchronised. The standardization of technology in the national grid and establishment of exit options for off-grid developers have the potential to enable off-grid development in regions currently underserved by the national grid and allow the assets of the off-grid enterprise to be fairly transferred to the national grid in the future. Thus, the policy implications of the leverage points create a national action plan such that smart grid efforts in one context can contribute to progress in the other.


Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.