Digitalization of Electric Utilities in South Asia

May 17th, 2021

ADB’s Developing Member Countries (DMCs) in South Asia, other regions, are now witnessing a paradigm shift in the power distribution sector, which is being driven by increased viability of distributed Renewable Energy (RE) sources, plans for proliferation of new electricity loads like Electric Vehicles (EVs) and increasing consumer centricity of utilities driven by enablement of two-way power flows. Incorporating these transformations not only have operational and financial implications but also require structural changes in order to sustain the transition. DMCs across the region have identified distribution grid upgrades and automation as key solutions and are committing themselves in implementing these initiatives at a national-scale through both operational and structural measures.

Some of the identified and currently implemented measures across the region include:

  • Large scale roll-out of Advanced Metering Infrastructure and focus on implementation of smart infrastructure;
  • Schemes and programs for enabling financial and operation turnaround of utilities;
  • Liberalization of electricity retail markets and mechanisms for increasing private sector participation in electricity distribution; and
  • Programs and incentives for accelerating implementation of DERs and grid-connected RE.

While few of the utilities across the region have advanced in their grid modernization maturity curve, most are still in the early stages of their transition towards a clean and smart energy future and are seeking viable and innovative solutions to accelerate on this path. Therefore, in this context, planning and implementation experiences from different parts of the world (both developed and developing countries) could provide a great learning opportunity for utilities across the region to develop and implement new, holistic approaches to manage the electrical grid of the future and deliver cleaner, reliable, quality an affordable electricity for all.

ADB has also been financing, along with other development partners, various projects and programs in the region and it is important to look at the experiences of these initiatives and build on that while preparing future support to the DMCs. For this, partnership with the governments, electricity regulators, utilities, technology providers, private sector, research organizations, development partners, among others, is even more critical than before.

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