Redefining Power Distribution for a Digital World

November 2, 2017 Philippe Delorme

The demand for power is constantly increasing. Over the past couple of decades, an increased global economy, combined with urban migration and a growing world population, have shown conclusively that our old power systems are no longer sufficient to meet the growing demand.

To compound this issue, four forces in the world today hold serious implications for the future of power distribution:

  • Electricity demand is expected to double by 2040, with much of this demand driven by Asian markets.[i]
  • There will be ten times more connected devices than people by 2020.[ii]
  • Despite the fact that energy efficiency is largely untapped, with 82% of its potential unrealized,[iii] equipment maintenance and operational expenses still represent a major percentage of building upkeep.
  • About 70% of new power generation will be through renewable rather than traditional generation systems by 2040.[iv]

All of these trends are creating massive disruption in the energy management systems, and lead to one unalterable truth: power distribution needs to evolve.

The challenge for businesses

Fortunately for the world, there have been massive changes in how power is generated and used. For example, compared to just a few years ago, we’re seeing enormous growth in:

  • Multi-source power generation
  • Decentralized grids
  • Decarbonized, renewable sources
  • Electrical distribution management

But with all this innovation comes a challenge for businesses. Buildings and facilities are major energy consumers – power assets incur significant operational costs, yet the traditional distribution https://www.schneider-electric.com/b2b/en/solutions/for-business/s4/electric-utilities-distribution-management-system/and monitoring systems that run them aren’t able to handle this more dynamic and multi-directional nature of power. Unless we change how buildings work from the inside out, the evolution of power can’t reach its full potential.

Evolve your facilities

I have written before about the enormous impact that digitization is having on the world in general, and the same thing can be said for buildings and facilities. There are five key trends we have been noticing in recent years:

  • The ubiquity of IoT – The more a building’s devices can connect to one another, the more optimized they can become.
  • Increased system automation – By adopting autonomous building and industrial systems, facilities can maximize efficiency without the need for human intervention slowing it down.
  • Convergence of technical systems – As stand-alone management systems phase out, power and energy management will merge with other systems for simplified and streamlined reporting and maintenance.
  • Pervasive decentralization – By reducing their reliance on any one energy source, facilities can increase flexibility and productivity, while reducing supply-chain risks.
  • Mesh network growth – With high-efficiency, high-reliability wireless communications, buildings can have a fast and effective communications network, even as the number of data points grow.

Clearly, the more digitized a building and its systems become, the better able it will be to adapt to the evolution of power – and become more efficient and comfortable, too.

The road to digitization

As you can see, digitization is the future of power distribution for buildings and facilities. But the question is, what about the present?

Here are some things you can do immediately to help evolve your building, and realize the global need for better, more efficient, and more sustainable systems:

  1. Install connected products – Only install devices that can be connected to your power management system for comprehensive, real-time updates. As an example, our Smart Panels provide electrical equipment the ability to present data on your computer or smart device in real-time, allowing you to pinpoint overloads and inefficiencies proactively, stop chasing vague alarms, and reduce costs. This can be as simple as adding a wireless device we call PowerTag onto a single circuit breaker, that will instantly monitor energy consumption.
  2. Run power management software – By connecting your devices to management software, you can analyze data to gain better understanding of your power network. For medium to large facilities, EcoStruxure™ Power Monitoring Expert collects and organizes all of the data gathered from your facility’s network so you can maximize your uptime, reduce your operational costs, and increase profitability. In small buildings, all this can be done through a simple and cost-effective mobile app called Facility Expert.
  3. Better insights – By using analytics, apps, software, and services that are available today, you can find ways to maximize uptime, increase efficiency, improve safety, and minimize costs. For example, with EcoStruxure Facility Advisor, businesses of all sizes can improve the performance of their buildings, ensuring business continuity while optimizing operation and maintenance costs.

The future of power starts today

By taking these few key steps to improve the power systems of your building or facility, you can ensure your business is prepared for the new power paradigm, and an active part of the global energy solution.

 

[i] Source: IEA WEO 2014
[ii] Source: Cisco, Internet World Statistics
[iii] Source: World Energy Outlook 2012
[iv] Source: BNEF

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