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Schneider Electric: Digital tech helps utilities improve sustainability

Schneider Electric: Digital tech helps utilities improve sustainability

Smart data-centered grids allows for better use of renewable resources and improves overall grid performance.

Frederic Abbal, Executive Vice President, Infrastructure, Schneider Electric, says digital technology can help utility companies promote greener energy use for their customers to improve sustainability.

Electric utilities and other power networks are in a unique position when it comes to improving sustainability. That’s because they have the ability to not just control their own carbon footprint but also promote more efficient, sustainable energy use for consumers.

They can improve sustainability and decarbonise to mitigate climate change while still supporting their consumers’ growing needs ranging from smooth, efficient integration of electric vehicles into the grid to better energy accessibility.

There is impressive growth in electric vehicle (EV) use as consumers seek greener, emission-free transportation. In 2016, there were record-breaking sales of EVs worldwide, and that growth is expected to continue. Some predict that one in six new cars in the world will be electric by 2025.

Utilities are also focusing on a different sustainability challenge – how to decarbonise energy while expanding electrification and promoting efficiency in developing and rural regions of the world. In many regions, microgrids and clean, low-carbon power sources like solar, are the most practical power options  and the most sustainable.

Digital technology plays a key role in the solutions for new energy world problems because a smarter, data-centered grid allows better use of renewable resources and improves overall grid performance. Distributed energy resources (DER) like solar and wind continue to gain strength and popularity – BNEF predicts that solar and wind will dominate the future of electricity, with 72% of the $10.2 trillion spent on new power generation worldwide to 2040 being invested in new wind and solar PV plants.

But to optimise grid assets today, utilities must push the current boundaries of these sources of power. This requires a data-focused infrastructure that gives utilities flexibility and control capabilities and an understanding of real-time grid conditions. Digitisation makes a major sustainability impact by optimising grid operations and integrating IoT, IT and OT systems.

It’s clear that the explosion of EV and DER on to the electrical grid requires more sophisticated distribution utility operating systems. They’ll need real time operations and control to thrive within a more dynamic power distribution marketplace than we have ever seen.

To stay competitive, utilities also need to rethink their business models. The future is low carbon and there are many advantages to adopting sustainability initiatives – including substantial economic returns for low-carbon investments, lasting market viability, competitiveness and resiliency.

To learn modern strategies for leveraging smart grid tools that will help meet these challenges, download a free white paper here: Smart Distribution Utility Strategies that Maximize Grid Efficiency.