ADB aid to facilitate the rollout of 140,000 smart meters in Timor-Leste

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In Southeast Asia, Electricidade de Timor-Leste has secured funding from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to modernise its grid network with smart meters and smart grid technologies.

The utility will use a $35 million loan from the ADB to ensure its grid network is resilient enough to power consumers in 12 municipalities.

Some 140,000 smart meters and a distribution automation system will be installed as part of the power distribution modernisation project.

The smart meters will enable the utility to leverage energy prepayment to ensure consumers are accurately billed and to reduce non-revenue electricity.

The smart meters will also provide the energy company with data on consumer energy usage for the development of personalized consumer energy management programmes.

The cost of electricity supply in Timor-Leste is higher than in neighbouring countries because of the utility’s slow transition from expensive diesel generation to renewables, high technical losses, and wasteful consumer use of energy because of a lack of metering infrastructure.

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The data from the smart meters and distribution automation system will enhance the energy company’s management of the grid.

These systems are expected to reduce the occurrence and duration of outages, and in the process improve customer services and reduce the company’s operational expenses.

Some 30 energy distribution transformers will be installed to reduce over and under loading of electricity on the grid, a development that will help improve power quality.

Electricidade de Timor-Leste provides electricity to more than 200,000 households, but its distribution network is in poor condition, with excessive voltage drops and persistent service outages, according to a statement.

Some 290 circuit kilometers of medium and low-voltage distribution lines will also be modernized and distribution control and information systems and centers established.

Electricidade de Timor-Leste says it will also use the funding and programme to ensure the participation of more women in grid management. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, increasing the participation of women in the energy sector will help accelerate the energy transition and ensure it is just and inclusive.

The electricity sector in Timor-Leste receives substantial state subsidies to cover the operating costs of the electricity network and as such improving the financial sustainability of the sector is a priority.

Daniel Miller, ADB’s senior finance specialist, said: “A resilient and reliable electricity system is crucial to the country’s goal of diversifying its economy and boosting industry, trade, tourism, and rural and urban social development.

“The project will improve the state utility’s operating efficiency, improve revenue collection, and strengthen its institutional capacity for electrical safety and operations. It will help improve the delivery of public services to households, create jobs, and support the government’s economic recovery plan.”