We have seen traditional power companies set ambitious decarbonisation goals
Published on : Thursday 07-04-2022
Akilur Rahman, Chief Technology Officer, Hitachi Energy India Limited.
Let’s begin with a simple question – what is the potential gain technology can bring in the existing power ecosystem ridden with inefficiencies?
Let’s talk of each element of the value chain from generation to transmission and distribution. Taking solar as an example, a simple tracker can increase generation between 15-20%. Then if you are transmitting the power generated to consumption centres in normal AC transmission one loses up to 22% of the power. And this is a significant source of losses in India. A combination of automation, electronics, and hardware (FACTS) can improve the load-bearing capacity of the existing grid. Also, depending on the scale of transmission, technologies such as HVDC can cut transmission losses – the same technology is being used to transfer clean hydropower from the Northeast to demand centres in the north, in and around Agra. In distribution, technology solutions like SCADA provide automatic monitoring, protecting, and controlling of various equipment in distribution systems with the use of Intelligent Electronic Devices (or RTUs). It restores the power service during a fault condition and maintains the desired operating conditions. SCADA improves the reliability of supply by reducing the duration of outages and gives cost-effective operation of the distribution system.
Then there are equipment-focused technologies that can lower downtime, raise safety standards, and improve operator experience. For example, take TXplore™ when an oil-filled transformer is suspected to have a problem, an internal inspection may be needed to help identify the root cause; and if the problem can be repaired in the field or if it can be delayed and resolved at a ‘more convenient’ time, and what if it requires a major repair effort in the field or a return to a repair factory. In such cases, the wirelessly controlled robotic inspection service by TXplore™ eliminates the need for manual human inspection while significantly lowering outage time and cost for our customers by giving paramount importance to the safety of personnel.
What are the components of the EconiQ portfolio and how do they help, especially in the High Voltage and Transformers area?
EconiQ™ is an eco-efficient portfolio for reducing environmental impact and increasing energy efficiency, whilst future-proofing technology investments. EconiQ’s High Voltage offering uses game-changing technology containing no sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) proven to significantly reduce carbon footprint throughout the entire lifecycle in live tank breakers and gas-insulated switchgear of various ratings. We are in the process of adding higher ratings to this range and expanding to dead tank breakers.
Transformers are critical for enabling an efficient and safe flow of electricity by adapting voltage levels. The EconiQ transformers have been developed using eco-design principles to maximise sustainability over the life cycle. Within the designs, key aspects are further optimised such as enhanced energy efficiency and the responsible use of materials through processes such as recycling and waste disposal. The use of biodegradable insulation fluids with higher flash and fire points helps to safeguard surrounding ecosystems from the risk of pollution and increase safety for people. In the first phase, the EconiQ transformers will be available for liquid-filled applications.
How does the Lumada Solutions suite complement the EconiQ portfolio?
While EconiQ with the cutting-edge core technologies of switching, arc-quenching, and insulation property helps in reducing carbon footprint, Lumada provides the digital platform for real-time monitoring of the performance of the assets, be it circuit breakers of transformers. Lumada, the digital cloud platform connects to the sensors installed in the circuit breakers transformers to collect data in real-time. It hosts and runs process and data analytics applications including AI-ML combined with enterprise transaction and workforce management to provide predictive and prescriptive asset maintenance actions for end-to-end performance management.
What is the role of the EnergyREC remote monitoring centre and how do power companies benefit from it?
RelCare is a digital partnership agreement combining asset management software with the expertise of Hitachi Energy, enabling asset and O&M managers to reliably and cost-effectively optimise system performance and protect crucial assets. At the EnergyREC in Bangalore, we provide services for industrial and utility customers that include:
a. Targeted maintenance based on dynamic system reliability and financial modelling
b. Increased maintenance quality thanks to an advanced maintenance management system and operational return of experience
c. Standardised maintenance execution based on harmonised safe work method statements (SWMS), and
d. Real-time monitoring of substation system key performance indicators.
How aware and involved are Indian power sector companies in this movement towards carbon neutrality?
A solid tangible indicator of awareness towards the carbon neutrality movement would be this year’s Union Budget, which is designed to stimulate economic recovery on the back of government spending that should crowd in private investment in emerging sectors such as climate action. An additional Rs 19,500 crore in PLI for manufacturing high-efficiency solar modules with priority on fully integrating manufacturing of various components is the right step in the direction of achieving 280 GW of installed solar capacity by 2030. Other elements of green energy push include allocation of Rs 1,400 crore for 123 MW hydro and 27 MW solar projects in FY23. Also, sovereign green bonds to be issued in public sector projects to reduce carbon footprint initiatives in the economy.
We have seen traditional power companies set ambitious decarbonisation goals – from generators to end-to-end providers. New entrants to the sector are aiming to leverage efficiencies of scale to make headway into emerging technologies such as green Hydrogen. The intent is very clear that our next phase will be to fast-track such mindset and technology through all levels of the supply chain.
The pillars of the clean energy future are the three Ds of Decentralisation, Decarbonisation, and Digitalisation – how do HE solutions help here?
Hitachi Energy Solutions to help meet the clean energy goal views that a significant amount of investment in technology innovation is required as a part of the 3D strategy – Decentralisation, Decarbonisation, and Digitalisation.
The power generation infrastructure is decentralised, and the aging grid system is unable to accommodate this new transition. In parallel, renewables are also steadily increasing, and with the emergence of IoT, cloud, and low-cost battery energy storage systems, the power system has become highly complex today. While this trend is contributing to sustainable energy production, it also helps to provide energy independence for participating stakeholders.
Hitachi Energy e-mesh™ helps global customers to easily transition to this new distributed energy model. From the field to the boardroom, we enable our customers to accelerate performance and stay ahead of the curve. The new-age automation solution, built using our proven MicroSCADA and RTU platforms, helps to monitor and control distributed energy resources.
The innovative digital offering e-mesh™ Monitor and e-mesh™ Applications, based on IoT technology, helps to forecast trends, optimise performance, and increase revenue streams.
EconiQ™: EconiQ’s portfolio is sustainability-oriented in design to deliver superior environmental performance compared to conventional solutions.
Grid-eMotion: Next-generation silent, flexible and zero-emission urban mass transportation.
Renewable Integration: From global energy companies to local cooperatives, the power industry is engaged in the wholesale transformation of the energy system, encompassing generation, transmission, storage, monitoring, and control. We offer industry-leading expertise spanning the full range of renewable energy project challenges, including EPC, financial analysis, consulting services, front-end engineering, and design, systems development, construction, operations, and maintenance.
Hydrogen Power: Hydrogen energy is a promising option for radically decarbonising our society. It can be used as a clean fuel in many sectors, including transportation, agriculture, and various industrial processes, and as a medium for energy storage.
Grid Edge Solutions: Whether it’s achieving energy autonomy, unlocking new economic opportunities, or effectively managing renewables and DER, Grid Edge Solutions provides a source for energy innovation and transition. Part of the growing Hitachi digital innovation ecosystem is our e-mesh™ portfolio of solutions – combining advanced analytics, energy management software, and hardware systems with battery energy storage.
Digital substations: Smart Digital Substation offering brings together the latest in digital substation technology with the unique predictive, prescriptive, and prognostic capabilities of Hitachi’s industry leading Lumada Asset Performance Management (APM) solution. By replacing copper wires with fibre optic cables, the Smart Digital Substation enables companies to reduce their carbon footprint with a smaller site and plan the next steps in their digital journey by employing digital technology and analytics in their operations. The Smart Digital Substation also makes it possible to increase reliability, integrate new forms of cleaner energy, and deliver energy services in smarter, safer ways – necessities for navigating the shift towards more distributed and less predictable renewable power generation. This helps with actionable Insights, 24/7 Expert Support, and Defense-in-Depth Cybersecurity.
Asset & Work Management: The asset & work management software portfolio enables asset-intensive industries to be more adaptive, collaborative, insightful, and predictive. It combines more than 130 years of engineering know-how in the power and industrial sectors with Hitachi’s leading Lumada digital ecosystem, as well as the domain and services expertise of Hitachi Vantara to guide customers in using technology to transform their business. Our asset and work management offering directly addresses the evolving needs of a broad customer base and drives improved business efficiencies and bottom-line results.
What is the Grid-eMotion Fleet, and how exactly it envisages scaling up operations as the number of EVs is still small?
Grid-eMotion Fleet is a scalable, modular, and fully customisable solution for large-scale EV charging of smart public and commercial transport – imagine municipal depots, airports, large commercial centres as a starting point in terms of market. The solution implements AC/DC rectification at a central location, reducing depot space requirements by up to 60% in a depot and optimising energy consumption from the grid through an integrated digital ecosystem. Fleet is suitably designed to offer the flexibility of connecting to the utility grid and ensure compliance with power quality requirements. Charging points are designed to ensure full interoperability with current and future EV fleets charged in DC via plug or pantograph.
Electrification of public transport has the potential to unfold along the lines of public spending that will crowd in private capital investments, which can subsequently accelerate EV adoption.
Akilur Rahman is Chief Technology Officer for Hitachi Energy India Limited, leading the technology giant’s core technologies and digitalisation strategy and execution for its business in the region. Hitachi Energy is a global leader in power technologies and aspires to be the partner of choice for enabling a stronger, smarter and greener grid.
With more than three decades of experience, Akilur is an accomplished figure, well-versed with the developments and trends in the power sector. He has held several leadership positions in ABB ranging from Head of Global Automation Product Development and Integration to Global Head of Cyber Security and Engineering in Process Automation and then Head of ABB Corporate Research Centre, Bengaluru, where he instilled higher collaboration toward global research and development, engineering and services to develop technology and tools with faster time to market. Prior to his current role, he was the Chief Technology Officer for ABB in India.
Akilur began his career in 1989 with ABB as Senior Engineer - System Engineering, Product Dev. And Application and worked his way up the ladder with his sharp acumen, knowledge of power technologies and project management skills. In 2019, he won the title of the 51st Most Impactful Smart Cities Leaders by the World Corporate Social Responsibility Congress.