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Driving Intelligence in Power Management through Digitalization & IoT

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By Sunil Ingawale-Director Engineering, Eaton India Innovation Center

In this decade of 21st century, world is seeing very different challenges in the power management in Power Generation, transmission, distribution & consumption. As most of the countries are taking on challenges on sustainability goals, there is significant Energy Transition happening towards more & more GREEN energy. Lot more sources of energy like Wind, Solar are becoming more viable and being adopted. However, this has put a clear expectation on adding intelligence into the existing products & solutions to manage this transition as well as adopting new digital software-based solutions. With the rapid advancement in the IoT & Cloud infrastructure, creating this intelligence is now feasible and economically viable.

Power management at its core, it is driving efficiency, reliability, and safety. IoT & Digitalization is providing opportunities to innovate into traditional Power Management Equipment and solutions. The multidirectional flow of information, integration of advanced information and state-of-the-art communication technologies for the operation of the power systems are key to an intelligent power management system. Many of our traditional devices like meters, drives, circuit breakers, transformers do lot of operations and control, however most of it happens at the device level locally and not much of the data is available elsewhere to monitor or control or take any actions remotely. Also, most of these equipment does have components which tends to wear out over their operation life and cause unexpected downtime and disruption to the business. Addressing these concerns from Providers and Consumers is equally important. For producers/distributors, it is all about Operational Excellence and for Consumers it is all about delightful experience.

OEMs of these equipment are now adding lot of processing power and intelligence at the device level and making them SMART and digitally connectable. Many additional sensors are being added to these devices to monitor temp, fatigue, cycles of operations etc. to create those additional data points which can be captured at defined intervals. With IoT enablement at the device level, OEMs are providing a Scalable, Highly Available and Cyber Secure Cloud IoT platform at optimized costs. Now this valuable data is pushed securely to the centralized infrastructure. With this data available in the Cloud, the providers are now able to monitor their Power Assets from a centralized location reducing cost of operations to them. The platform provides system operators with detailed real-time data that can be used to optimize overall system operations. OEMs are providing different services like proactive maintenance alerts based on events, Predictive Maintenance Alerts through Intelligent algorithms which detect the anomalies by observing the operational data and suggest maintenance actions before the equipment would fail. This helps them increase their Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE) and reduce unexpected downtime. The Cloud IoT platform allows to generate these Alerts through Mobile Notifications to the personnel anytime, anywhere thereby improving the time to respond to critical events/failures. This addresses the efficiency & reliability aspect for the providers.

One of the major challenges faced by the providers is on the planning side. The ability to respond to the peak demand and manage the overall cost of energy acquisition, it is important for providers to understand the demand scenario on a regular basis from small residential communities to a large industrial unit. Many of the providers are now installing their own capacity or working with other vendors of renewable energy sources like Wind & Solar. These sources are also managed by intelligent microgrids. With Smart Metering Devices, Motor Drives, Intelligent Switchgear, Smart Circuit breakers, Intelligent Energy management devices are pushing this rich consumption data on their Cloud IoT platform. The providers can consume these services to analyze the overall load at normal circumstances and plan their regular demand & peak demand scenarios. These can help them to utilize alternate sources of power to reduce the cost of acquisition from traditional sources. Any surge then can be accommodated with a lower cost and thereby reduce energy costs to the providers at peak demand scenarios as well. Distributed resources, when integrated under appropriate interconnection standards, in microgrids, or in automated distribution systems, offers the potential to improve grid reliability and resilience for customers that place a high value on uninterrupted service.

On the other hand, consumers are expecting that delightful Experience through reliable energy at competitive costs. With many consumers moving towards green energy at their household level, they have additional sources of energy available through Solar Panels, Batteries and Electric Vehicles (EV). Home Energy Management Systems (HEMS) combined with Smart Energy Devices can control these sources. These households are now acting as small microgrids and can make the intelligent decisions based on serving the loads in the household using local source or provide this additional energy back to providers to augment capacity and in return get the cost benefit. HEMS level services are built in the IoT Cloud Platform by analyzing load profiles and building Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning algorithms/Models to make decisions on what source to choose. Providers can use those through API ecosystem to manage & control loads remotely based on the preferences set by home users. In turn home users can get benefitted by choosing the reliable services at best optimized costs which they can control at their will.

OEMs have created these Cloud IoT platforms and Digital Software Ecosystem, which are completely managed by them, and providers can use them as SaaS Subscription models with no upfront costs. The Digital Ecosystems and devices are fully certified for Cyber Security and constantly updated as and when new vulnerabilities discovered. OEMs are providing capabilities to integrate non-OEM equipment also through standard interoperable industrial interfaces like Modbus, DNP3, EthernetIP, OPC-UA, BACNet etc. This helps the utilities to keep the focus on their primary objective of Operations Excellence. As the devices are becoming smarter & smarter, the intelligence is made available seamlessly into the Digital Ecosystem. OEMs provide all the raw data, actionable insights, complex algorithms, and additional intelligence through a bouquet of services through published API Ecosystem. The providers/utilities/distributors can use Digital Solutions built by OEMS or build their own specific Web applications, Mobile Applications consuming these APIs and create Value-Added Customized Services to the end customers and create a competitive advantage for themselves over their peers.

As we speak, a level standardization in these end devices and equipment would help become truly interoperable across the different manufacturers. This can further drive more value to the utilities and freedom to consumers in choosing equipment of their choice without affecting the services being provided or consumed.

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