Addressing India’s Energy Dilemma
Schneider Electric sees the answer in digitisation, decarbonisation and decentralisation
Photo Credit :
Schneider Electric a key player in the energy management segment, acknowledges the existence of an energy dilemma that requires urgent solutions: energy demand will double by 2050 while the need to reduce carbon footprints by half will be critical by the same time. The business recognises that transition to a low-carbon economy is the only way to secure sustainable economic growth and a future of equity.
As a result, while global power capacity will double by 2040, two-thirds of this will be via renewables. Additionally, energy systems will shift from being supply driven to demand driven, powered by digital technologies such as IoT and AI. In fact, IoT is poised to take the energy universe to the next level with up to 50 billion connected devices by 2020 and 75 billion connected ones by 2025.
In this emerging world of decentralised energy, solar will be dominating the future. Significantly, solar energy is as cheap as coal in Australia, Germany, Spain, the US and Italy. What’s more, it is predicted that by 2021, solar power will be cheaper than coal in India, China, Brazil, Mexico and the UK. The costs of both solar and storage have dropped by a factor of five during the past few years. Given these advantages, analysts expect the renewables sector to account for up to 50% of new capacity additions by 2030 worldwide.
Energy Access and the 3Ds
During the last 10 years, digitisation and decentralisation have allowed humans to rethink the world they live in to make it more electric, more digitised, more decarbonised and more decentralised. These 3Ds of the New Energy World – Digitisation, Decarbonisation, Decentralisation – can help us manage this demand more smoothly and create a better world for all of humanity and, most importantly, for future generations.
The major part of inefficient energy usage is due to the non-availability of relevant information, which could be addressed by the first ‘D’, Digitisation. Take the domestic power network. As far as the generation goes, there is sufficient capacity. But inefficiency prevails in the entire last-mile connectivity, distribution and transmission network. This is because all these networks are working independently. Data from the demand and supply sides not being available for integration, the demand-supply gap cannot be balanced to create efficiency in the entire network.
The second ‘D’ denotes Decarbonisation. Schneider Electric follows a sustainability index at the group level, which helps the organisation track everything it does in business and, thereby, helps it become more carbon neutral in order to contribute towards the creation of a greener world. Efforts towards decarbonisation are reflected in the innovations undertaken, the products manufactured and the technologies used. Since the Company operates in more than 100 countries, these measures are touching a large part of the planet, even as SE is expanding its sustainability commitments, aiming to become a carbon-neutral company by 2030.
The future of the world lies in balancing the mix between fossil fuels and renewables. Solar and wind are important components of the latter, which includes biomass and other sources. But mega power is being produced close to where the coal pits and other sources are and then being transmitted thousands of kilometres away to populated areas via transmission lines. This model is contributing to deforestation and other problems, aggravating global warming and climate change. Decarbonisation is, therefore, the move towards sustainable and environment-friendly methods of power generation.
With decentralisation, the third ‘D’, one ensures that generation, especially of renewables such as solar, is done close to where the load centres exist. Therefore, solar plants in an industrial township will be used for captive consumption and the extra energy would be supplied back to the grid. In this way, such consumers are becoming ‘prosumers’ – those producing as well as consuming electricity. All this is part of decentralisation.
|Energy dilemma and EcoStruxure Grid|
|Anil Chaudhary Country President & Managing Director, Schneider Electric India|
How can digitisation help in the provision of reliable, sustainable energy?
The large part of energy inefficiency stems from non-availability of information. Consider the Indian network, in generation, we probably have sufficient capacity. The inefficiency lies in the entire last-mile connectivity, distribution and transmission. And since these distribution networks are working independently, we are unable to integrate the demand and supply side and ensure a balance for the overall efficiency of the complete network.
Digitisation, IoT and the EcoStruxure Grid are solutions we are introducing in the market, especially in Smart Cities, which will help end-to-end viewing of the demand, the price side, the best distribution network. Once I can monitor the performance of every component in that distribution network, I create efficiency and also reliability, safety and dependability.
Are there any specific innovations developed by Schneider Electric to ensure sustainability?
As part of the EcoStruxure platform, we are ensuring all our products, including future products and solutions, are more connected and efficient. This is being done by using all the digital and connected features of these products and then creating an efficient, sustainable network for themselves, at the same time, monitoring and controlling usage to create more efficiency.