Under the digital trend, the efficiency of power grid has been greatly improved, injecting new vitality into urban development. In order to further promote the construction of intelligent distribution network in central cities, the State Grid announced that it plans to comprehensively improve the reliability and power supply quality of urban distribution network and build a world-class urban distribution network in 10 large cities such as Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai in about four years. Put forward the requirements for the overall interconnection and intelligent service of the power distribution network, and put forward the requirements for the overall interconnection and intelligent service of the enterprise. In the future, the construction of distribution network has been put on the agenda, and the deployment route is gradually clear.
The energy industry is at a critical moment
At present, mankind is entering a world of digital interconnection. From the control room of power distribution enterprises to the power socket in consumers’ homes, science and technology are helping us use energy in a more intelligent and efficient way.
With the increasing expectations of energy consumers for power grid reliability and energy and environmental impact, all parties are scrambling to launch the smart grid transformation plan. However, transformation is by no means easy. Distribution enterprises must be cautious when planning their own development path. The transformation to high intelligence involves not only the planning and design of the network and the transformation and upgrading of infrastructure, but also very complex regulations and operation environment.
Decoding future power grid
In the view of some forecasters, the future of public utilities may be uncertain due to the risk of “death spiral”. However, Schneider Electric always chooses to make bold ideas and strive to turn them into reality. In a region where the cost of electricity, the financial efficiency and the availability of carbon dioxide per capita are high, we can enjoy such a safe and reliable power supply. In this world, energy supply is sufficient, cheap and renewable; In this world, distribution enterprises can reduce the difficulty of management and make profits through automation technology.
In order to realize this interconnected and efficient future energy world, Schneider Electric has conducted in-depth research on five key areas and made the following predictions:
Today, 95% of enterprise businesses involve digital applications. In order to remain competitive globally, they put forward urgent requirements for a “never-stop” power environment. However, compared with the European power grid, the power grid reliability of emerging economies is generally lower than it should be.
Shutdown events in the utility sector are driven by both internal and external factors. Shutdown events caused by internal factors are usually caused by human error or technical failure; External driven downtime events are usually caused by bad weather, random accidents and vandalism (through network or physical means). The ability to control internal shutdown factors is relatively easier than external factors. At present, in terms of “easy to control” internal prevention and control, the utility department is trying to improve the process, eliminate single points of failure and emphasize internal safety.
Schneider Electric believes that the future world of “never stop” needs the whole maintenance field to change from the current passive practice to more predictive and condition based maintenance. The embedded sensor will observe the behavior of all equipment in the whole distribution line and report abnormalities in installation practice, wiring technology, machine connection and load configuration to remind the owner of possible premature wear of components. In addition, the possible negative factors affecting the availability of the system (such as possible human misoperation, high temperature, high acidity, corrosion and power fluctuation) will be marked, and the operator will be informed of what measures to take.
In the current highly centralized power generation system, the loss of transmission and distribution is large, and the high customization and uniqueness of public distribution utilities will also lead to low efficiency and increased operating costs. To achieve growth while reducing carbon emissions, utilities need to become more efficient or face the risk of eviction.
As the industry shifts from centralized power generation to more and more regional power generation, the physical infrastructure can operate at its highest limit as far as possible. Therefore, the utility sector can maintain the same service level through lower early investment to reduce procurement costs. In addition, based on Schneider Electric’s close monitoring and analysis of the substation transformer, it is found that if the transformer operates far below its load limit, its service life can be extended.
The original sales driven growth strategy of public utilities is not a sustainable strategy to maintain business growth. Schneider Electric sees that the global trend is shifting so that economic growth and energy consumption are no longer linked. This can be achieved through more efficient operational solutions. According to Jevon paradox, the improvement of resource efficiency will increase (not decrease) the consumption rate of the resource
（3） Technical capability
The explosive growth of massive data means that it will be impossible to manage the complex and changeable global energy production and consumption behavior. In order to reduce costs and improve competitiveness, new smart devices continue to flow into the power grid, but the integration level is not very high. At present, most power generation and transmission systems operate in isolated islands. In addition, operators are overwhelmed by the complexity of the power grid, and the level of network security needs to be further improved.
In the face of technical pressure and demands from the government and consumers to reduce electricity prices, distribution enterprises need to adopt a two pronged approach to simplify operation and reduce costs: first, investment in network upgrading and expansion needs to be carefully controlled; Second, realize more value on the basis of existing assets.
Schneider Electric believes that the wide adoption of technical standards will ensure the interoperability between systems and provide unprecedented flexibility for distribution enterprises. This will directly improve the efficiency of network modeling, plug and play technology, and improve the overall network security.
Looking ahead, pure centralized infrastructure will disappear to avoid “single point of failure” Infrastructure will become more localized and even virtualized. On demand services will dominate the market. The system with self-healing and self correction will go online. At that time, “white-collar” operators will make decisions according to the variable environment and market conditions (similar to today’s stock brokers).
（4） Climate and environment
The report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on climate change (IPCC) shows that human impact on the climate system is obvious, and greenhouse gas emissions have reached the highest level ever. Recent climate change has had a wide range of impacts on human and natural systems. The organization said that a successful response needs to be able to achieve significant emission reductions in the next few decades and near zero carbon dioxide emissions by the end of the century.
Due to the high use of fossil fuels, at present, the power and thermal power generation sector is the field with the largest carbon dioxide emission (accounting for about 42%), and public utilities have become the key industry to quickly achieve the emission reduction target.
In the future, Schneider will become a large area of new energy and non fossil power generation in the world. The impact of climate on infrastructure will be more severe, unpredictable and will disrupt power supply. Enterprises leading the transformation of clean energy will become the biggest beneficiaries.
（5） Market driven and business model evolution
Although people generally realize that the traditional distribution mode is undergoing fundamental changes, the stakeholders of public utilities are still exploring and thinking about the future structure of the industry.
As today’s traditional utilities still focus most of their energy on short-term priorities and constraints, new participants and consumers are entering the market to fill the gap. They achieve the lowest price through technologies that can monitor the real-time dynamics of electricity prices and promote energy consumption patterns. The influence of these producers and consumers is increasing.
Schneider Electric believes that the future smart grid will bring many relevant business strategies, including a highly loose regulatory environment, an innovative dynamic pricing system, establishing a leading position in demand management business planning, shifting from centralized power plants to more local microgrids, and establishing industry standards covering all operation fields.