- Anil Kadam, Senior Manager-Solution Architect for Energy and Utilities (Smart Grids), Schneider Electric India
You must be the change you wish to see in the world.¨ This statement by Mahatma Gandhi sums up the mindset of Schneider Electric. The company provides innovative, integrated solutions to make energy safer and more reliable, efficient and productive. Consider this: About 72 per cent of the world´s energy is consumed by infrastructure, industry, buildings and residential markets. And now, Schneider Electric can provide these markets up to 30 per cent energy savings through its solutions. Anil Kadam, Senior Manager-Solution Architect for Energy and Utilities (Smart Grids), Schneider Electric India, elaborates upon the smart building scenario and how buildings can interact with the utilities of a city in a tOte-a-tOte with SHRIYAL SETHUMADHAVAN.
What is the current scenario for smart buildings and their integration with smart cities?
Smart buildings were a reality even before the smart cities buzz started in the market because the facility manager of a building was always interested in cutting down energy costs and yet achieve efficiency and optimisation. So we have been selling building management systems (BMS) for ages. When you go into a building, you have energy guzzling systems and HVAC, escalators and lighting automation systems. So there has been automation in buildings for a long time. But what is new from the smart cities perspective is how buildings will interact with the utilities of the city so they can be more efficient. For example, Mumbai may have 1,000 buildings. Each building consumes, say, 1 MW per floor and its total requirement is 1,000 MW. Now, the power company supplies 1,000 MW until, suddenly, there is a fault in the system and it is now able to supply only 500 MW. In today´s scenario, this leads to load shedding. However, if the smart way is adopted, the power company can send an interactive message to occupants asking them to reduce electricity consumption by 50 per cent. And if the building takes that message automatically and reduces the non-essential load, there will be no load shedding. For this, the occupant will be incentivised by the power company by being charged only half the tariff in that period of time. As for the power company, it is not obligated to buy costly power immediately from somewhere else and yet offer it at a subsidised rate. So this could be a win-win situation for both the occupant and power company. Such is the change that will come from the smart cities perspective.
With emerging concepts like smart buildings and initiatives like smart cities, what do future trends look like?
People are trying to understand the regulations of the government much better, they are trying to understand the advantages of doing this in a city, and are trying to build solutions accordingly. The user is looking at investing in rooftop solar knowing that the power will be used for himself but he is now questioning if the power could be sold to the grid. He is seeking companies that have announced a feed-in tariff. So the trend is shifting towards collaboration and mutual benefits and co-creation. Even the Ministry of Urban Development is thinking of creating the same. There are a lot of countries that have made their cities smart and they have taken energy-intensive routes, simply because they have had surplus energy with them. But India is heavily dependent on fuel exports. So anything that India does should be done in an energy-efficient way.
What is the change required?
A radical shift is required. Today you go into a city; there are separate departments for water, electricity and transportation. There is sometime little or no interaction between departments. Back in the US, there is a CXO concept. There is a mayor who is responsible for the city. All the utilities and systems come under him. So to implement a smart city, a fundamental and radical change in policy should happen in a city. Every utility and department should come under one governing authority. Chandigarh is a true smart city; even though there is no smart command-and-control centre, it is just designed in a smart way. There are utility trenches - a separate section beside the road where you can run utility cables - designed 45 years ago in Chandigarh. Any cable or pipeline can go in the trench. Today, in Bengaluru, to put a new cable, you have to dig the road. Also, with the way that circles have been designed in Chandigarh, the traffic does not get clogged. So one can be smart in fundamental design and engineering and then handle it using analytics and digitisation. You have a mammoth amount of data coming in; from analytics you get insight, and from insight you make the right decision and deploy it using operations technology.
Also, can you introduce us to the complete fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) solutions being offered in smart homes?
It is high bandwidth fibre connectivity to your home. It can be used for multiple purposes, such as cable TV, multilayer protocol switching and smart meter of utilities - it is the backbone of communication on which multiple services can run. Tomorrow, going in for a water meter will be smart; the meter will read and send the information back. And the electric meter will be smart in the sense that it can tell you that the rate of the tariff is going to change.
When we speak of smart cities, what is the market eyeing- greenfield or brownfield?
There are three types of smart cities: Greenfield, where you build the infrastructure and ecosystem completely from scratch; Brownfield (the majority), which is existing cities including Tier I, II and III; and Whitefield, a pocket of a small city, outside a city being made smart. I think Brownfield projects are going to pick up but integration will be the challenge because several small systems have been desperately installed over a period of time. So in terms of integration, standardisation is what people need to focus on. And for this, the governance structure should change. Otherwise this is going to be another silo.
Please introduce us to some projects where Schneider is offering solutions.
We are doing four smart projects now. One is in Kerala where we are automating the power distribution companies of three cities, Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam and Kozhikode. It´s a command-and-control centre where we are managing the city´s complete distribution. The other project is in Bihar, the whole of Patna, where the electricity distribution is more; so at the operation level, we are making it smart. The third project is in Jharkhand which is on the go - it is still getting executed. Then there is one in Odisha. Similarly, there are many more in the pipeline.
How do you view the government´s Make in India vision?
It´s a good initiative from the standpoint of the economy. We should not lose our economy outside. Also, when a lot of projects start kicking in, supply chain and logistics are a big problem. Now why do you want to be locked in the supply chain system of outside countries! So while improving your own economy and bringing new entrepreneurs or trying to increase the capacity of existing companies in India, you are able to make your city smart. Maintenance is also difficult. Assets are important, so India pumps in a lot of capex, a lot of infrastructure comes in, but who is there to maintain it? I cannot depend on someone from America or Europe to maintain it. We are software giants, and Make in India will make us hardware giants as well.
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