Electricity 4.0, a convergence of digital and electricity, leading to a more efficient, sustainable and resilient electric New World, will change the future of electricity and at the forefront of this revolution is Schneider Electric, the leader in the digital transformation of energy management and automation. To learn more about this topic, BR spoke to Petr Hermann, Cluster President South East Europe at Schneider Electric, who heads the company’s operations in Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Bulgaria, Greece, Albania, North Macedonia. , Kosovo, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, Cyprus.
- What is electricity 4.0?
Electricity 4.0 is the convergence of electricity and digital technology on a large scale. It’s the fastest way to cleaner, smarter and more efficient energy.
While many people are familiar with Industry 4.0, we wanted to explain that over the past 250 years, the world has actually gone through 4 technological revolutions, simultaneously impacting the worlds of industry and electricity.
We must start by rethinking our relationship to energy, which is responsible for more than 80% of carbon emissions in the world. We firmly believe that the solution is a more electric and digital world. At Schneider, we call it Electricity 4.0.
- What are the benefits of E4.0 for customers, partners and industry?
Electricity is the most efficient energy (found 3 to 5 times more efficient than other sources) and it is also the best decarbonisation vector (we expect to see 6 times more electricity from renewable energies by 2040… from 6% today to 40% in the next 20 years). Our customers, partners and the entire industry are looking for ways to decarbonize, and Electricity 4.0 delivers measurable and sustainable results with technologies that already exist today.
Digital is building a smart future. It makes the invisible visible, increases efficiency and eliminates wasted energy. (Over 60% of the energy produced is wasted. Efficiency is often overlooked, although it is one of the fastest ways to reduce carbon emissions).
Electricity 4.0 is also future-proof. Innovation today relies heavily on electricity and digital technology. From gadgets that improve our lives, to digital teleworking, to electric mobility. And Schneider is helping to drive change around the world to make the operations of our customers and partners more sustainable.
- How does Electricity 4.0 connect to the Internet of Things?
IoT starts with ‘things’, and we pride ourselves on making the best ‘things’ on the market. Today, we think of them as digital by default (or software-defined). What were once “boxes” are now “smart and connected boxes” which, together with software and services, give users complete visibility into their energy consumption.
Add to that our lifecycle software solutions and you’ll see end-to-end efficiency, from design and construction to operation and maintenance. When you combine these three elements of innovation, we believe we will be able to deliver unmatched customer impact.
- Why are we talking about it now?
Today we are at a critical juncture. Our latest technological innovations – including electric vehicles – are still largely powered by the 20e century “fuel”. Over 80% of the world’s energy demand is met by fossil fuels and is distributed through obsolete, passive and disconnected systems.
As energy plays a vital role in the climate crisis, we need to modernize every step of the value chain – from production (with cleaner energy production), to distribution (with more micro-grids closer to points of consumption and more access to energy), to use (with meters and smart technology to give users visibility and efficiency).
- How does electricity compare to other energy / energy sources?
Electricity is the most efficient energy (proves to be 3 to 5 times more efficient than other sources) and it is also the best decarbonisation vector. It offers a maximum thermal efficiency of almost 100% in terms of “useful energy”.
Demand for electricity is expected to double by 2040, and the good news is that we expect to see 6 times more electricity from renewables in the same time frame … from 6% today to 40% in the next 20 years.
- How can you be so sure mass electrification is the answer?
Today’s digital technologies exist to achieve widespread electrification. Perhaps the most obvious example is the shift to electric vehicles. You only have to look at Tesla’s market value to see how it is rapidly disrupting the norm and helping to accelerate the transition across the auto industry.
Equally important, and what electric and digital are here to solve, is smart energy metering and waste reduction.
The technology exists to digitize electrical distribution and make the invisible, visible. First, digital technologies such as metering and monitoring allow us to see how we are using our energy. Adding to that smart devices, apps, analytics and software allows us to go further and deploy energy more efficiently – and allow us to capitalize on enormous potential for energy savings. This is perhaps where we can see the fastest gains in carbon reduction … it is much easier to save a unit of energy than to manufacture one.
- Are changes to the energy infrastructure / grid required to be able to support Electricity 4.0?
The digital network, optimized through advanced distributed management solutions (ADMS) and the integration of the IT-OT platform, can support a 75% carbon-free electricity production mix and enable proactive prevention breakdowns.
Electricity 4.0, the combination of electric and digital, will power the decentralized two-way energy grid of the future. Consumers and businesses will be able to generate their own clean and abundant energy through renewables and microgrids to use, store or even resell in the market.
Investing in new energy opportunities and Distributed Energy Resources (RED) can improve network responsiveness, agility and reliability as the world shifts to electric vehicles and electrifies cooking and heating at a sustained rate.
As cooking, heating, personal transportation and industry continually seek to decarbonise through electrification, demands for grid resilience will increase alongside increased efforts in connectivity, digitization and sustainability. The network must be modernized to meet the needs of the New Digital World.