Digitization Key to Ensure 24×7 Power For All: Schneider Electric

Anil Chaudhry, Country President and Managing Director, Schneider Electric India, explains to Clean Future why digitization offers a slew of opportunities for improving the efficiency of power distribution in India.

Schneider Electric, the Fortune 300 multinational and global specialist in energy management and automation with a presence in over 100 countries has taken the lead in emphasizing the role of digitization to ensure the success of one of the government’s key policy initiatives – 24×7 Power for All.

The company which clocked revenues of €25 billion in FY2016 and has 170,000 employees worldwide recently presented its digital architecture – EcoStruxure Grid Efficiency, released a white paper in association with IDC on the need for digitization in India’s power sector and has highlighted IoT, analytics and cloud capabilities as the key areas for investment by utilities to manage their power distribution needs.

Elaborating on the critical role of the technological evolution to ensure the smart distribution of power, Anil Chaudhry, Country President and Managing Director, Schneider Electric India, says, “Digitisation offers tremendous opportunities for improving the competency of power distribution in India.

“Traditionally, we have addressed the energy equation from the supply side— adjusting the amount of electricity generated to ensure that supply matches demand. But depending solely on supply-side solutions will not allow us to meet our obligations to reduce our carbon emissions and reduce energy consumption.”

He further states that the objective of the company’s focus to highlight the need for digitization of the power sector was to further strengthen its commitment towards attaining a ‘New World of Energy’ that is more efficient, sustainable, reliable and connected.

“In the new world of energy – where lives are more electric, more connected, and more distributed – we are better able to address the problem from the other side — from the demand side, from the perspective of the energy user. In line with this, a prerequisite to extracting optimal efficiency of power discoms is the coming together of energy, automation and software & analytics. This makes the energy value chain more intelligent — more predictable,” he adds.

EcoStruxure Grid:

Sharing the reasons behind the launch of the EcoStruxure grid, Chaudhry opines that distribution utilities are at the core of a New World of Energy. “These utilities are often impacted by business and economic volatilities such as evolving regulatory framework, market integration, redesigning of energy value chain, grid complexity etc. In such a scenario, it is imperative to develop a framework that can provide a holistic approach towards addressing these challenges.”

Chaudhry further reveals that the launch of the EcoStruxure Grid was in line with the company’s vision to further the cause of the digital transformation of power distribution utilities in the country, thereby ensuring high efficiency in gird operations and optimal asset management via an open IoT-enabled framework.

“The EcoStruxureTM architecture leverages IoT and cloud capabilities alongwith automation and software & analytics, to drive greater energy and process optimization,” he states. Adding, “We, at Schneider Electric, are completely committed to extend all our support to the government in achieving its goal of 24X7 quality power supply.”

The architecture of the new grid further enables the ability to create an interoperable and open IoT-enabled platform and ensures assets across the grid are also managed proactively.

This means that companies will now be able to achieve improved efficiency and cost outcomes. Data will be accessible in real time, enabling the ability to resolve critical issues and increase customer satisfaction by proactively managing issues that arise across the grid.

Highlights of the White Paper:

Schneider Electric in partnership with IDC has also released a white paper that highlights the pressing need for Indian utilities to embark on the technological advancements in the sector, in order to trim operational inefficiencies and create a more agile organisation.

At a time when global energy consumption is expected to increase by 40 percent over the next 25 years, the ‘New World of Energy’ lays emphasis on the need to Decentralise, Digitise and De-Carbonise.

The research outlines the heavy focus that Indian utilities have placed on operational efficiency to improve their financial position, with improving efficiencies and reducing costs figuring as their top two priorities in the next 12-18 months.

Manual distribution processes, lack of decision making transparency, insufficient infrastructure, and lack of real-time information are some of the other challenges that are in turn resulting in delayed revenue realization, poor operating efficiency, and high operating costs, the study has revealed.

According to the paper, IoT, analytics and cloud capabilities are particularly important elements for utilities seeking to monitor and control equipment across the network of assets and to manage their grid environments. IDC’s research shows that amongst Indian utilities organizations, cloud platforms for data management, IoT and utilization of data within 3D visualizations are particular priorities for organizations looking at new areas of technology investment.

According to the findings of the IDC survey, 64 percent of Indian utility companies cited the digitizing of manual or paper processes as one of the biggest drivers for people, process and technology transformation within their organizations. Organizational flexibility and agility is also an issue, with 68 percent of respondents stating their desire to create a more agile organization as the top driver behind their IT investments.

Schneider Electric is currently working with various state discoms to provide digital technologies for the grid. Last year, the company commissioned a SCADA-DMS project for the Bihar Power Distribution Company that helped the state utility reduce its overall costs by curbing power theft and losses, reduce unscheduled downtimes, improve customer usage mapping, detecting faults faster, and gain new capabilities to scale up to meet increasing power demand.

Spotlight on India:

As part of its global growth strategy, India enjoys the status of being a key focus country for the Group. Its India footprint includes over 20,000 employees, including 1500 R&D engineers, 28 manufacturing plants, over 60,000 points of sale and a direct presence in over 110 cities & towns in India.

Encouraged by the engineering excellence & productivity demonstrated by the India teams over the years, the group anticipates significant and committed investments going forward spread across its manufacturing capacity, R&D, Engineering capabilities and export functions.

“We are committed to growth through innovation and in line with this we have made key acquisitions and partnerships in India,” states Chaudhry. “As one of the leading global players in India today with a strong manufacturing and R&D base in this country, Schneider Electric is committed to be a part of the ‘Make In India’ program to meet the growing needs of innovative solutions for Indian as well as our global customers.”