Sensors and sensibilities
Anil Chaudhry, country president & managing director, Schneider Electric India, explains how the concept of smart cities can transform the nation. Interviewed by Jayashree Mendes
Schneider Electric has evinced a strong interest in the Modi government’s plans of smart cities. Although too early to speak of execution, what are some of the plans Schneider has for smart cities?
Schneider Electric totally and wholeheartedly supports the government’s 100 Smart City plan. It is a very bold and visionary initiative that is the need of the nation. It will lead to massive employment generation, support the rapid urbanisation and assist in the much needed emphasis on the manufacturing industry. The need arises from the fact that by 2030, Indian cities will contribute more than 70% to country’s GDP and new employment opportunities. By the same time, 68 Indian cities will be home to a population of one million or more. This will be twice the current total number of European cities with a population of more than one million. There will be 91 million urban Indian households by 2030, from the current 24 million. Indian urban clusters will provide 85% of the total tax revenue to government’s exchequer.
SEIL (Schneider Electric Infrastructure Limited) manufactures transformers, MV switchgears (AIS, GIS), RMUs, compact substations, automation (feeder automation, substation automation), relays etc. This is complemented by Schneider Group factories of LT switchgears, capacitors, building management systems, UPS, data centre solutions, lighting controls, process automation solutions & products etc. Any smart city has two components – physical infrastructure and software. That’s where Schneider Electric has expertise in smart city by having both in-house software & physical layer which is hardware. All above mentioned manufactured physical products go in field of new or existing city are smart enough to integrate with software level which is first step towards smart city. It enables all the fields of Smart City whether it is water, electricity, public services, transportation, etc.
You have been stressing a lot on green. In fact now your entire ecosystem revolves around this. Tell us what exactly the company is deploying products and solutions?
Energy conservation and its management is no longer just a buzz-word today. More than ever before, the world is experiencing an acute shortage of sustainable energy solutions; a predicament compelling nations to achieve more while using fewer resources. Managing energy efficiently has, therefore, come to be the key to maximising its usefulness and economising its wastage.
Schneider Electric Industries SAS (SE) has long recognised that energy efficiency is the quickest, cheapest and the cleanest way to reduce energy consumption. Its vision of “seeing a world where innovative individuals use collaborative solutions to make the most of their energy, while using less of our common planet” has enabled it in its mission to "help individuals and organisations make the most of their energy" across its operations in more than 100 countries. As a global specialist in energy management, SE has endeavoured to make energy safe, reliable, efficient, productive, and green.
Schneider Electric India Pvt. Ltd (SEI), a 100% subsidiary of Schneider Electric Industries SAS, is one of the top three energy management companies in India and offers integrated solutions across multiple market segments, including leadership positions in utilities & infrastructure, industries & machines manufacturers, non-residential building, data centres & networks and in residential.
You have been training people in energy management as part of BipBop. What has been the success of the programme?
Globally, around 1.3 billion people have no access to energy – the equivalent of the US and European populations combined. Launched in 2009, Schneider Electric’s BipBop (Business, Innovation, People at the Base of the Pyramid) programme seeks to help resolve the issue of energy access by implementing a virtuous circle based on three pillars: social investments (business), the creation of specific products and business models (innovation) and training (people). Thanks to these three initiative types that run simultaneously, BipBop strives to create an ecosystem favourable to energy access and the emergence of an economic and social dynamic.
Energy being the basis of sustainable development, Schneider Electric has trained more than 50,000 people from the new economies in energy management as part of the BipBop programme. With the target being to train 40,000 people by end 2014, Schneider Electric has far exceeded its initial goal, which was set as part of the planet and society barometer – the company’s dashboard to monitor its sustainable development performance. Since the target has been exceeded much before schedule, we are delighted with the success of the programme.
In terms of building management, how exactly can companies effectively use solutions that bring down energy bills?
We believe what cannot be controlled cannot be measured. Schneider’s SmartStruxure solution enables an owner to monitor, measure and optimise a building’s performance throughout its lifecycle, thereby saving money. This solution connects five domains of expertise – power, data centres, process and machines, building management and physical security – within an open and flexible technology architecture that delivers significant savings on capital and operational expenses. SmartStruxure solution software facilitates the exchange and analysis of data from energy, lighting, fire safety and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) systems. Significantly, its unique, scalable architecture allows seamless integration with existing and emerging technologies.
Schneider’s innovative, ready-to-use HVAC solutions save up to an additional 30% energy on such machines. These solutions incorporate plug-and-play variable speed drives, HVAC controllers and function blocks that are focussed on energy efficiency, which provide improved control and can increase the energy performance of such machines. These solutions range from simple, standalone control products to global building management systems. The systems make the use of renewable energy sources easy, reliable and cost effective. They also measure and control energy, automate and provide relevant diagnostics, all of which help prevent power outages and energy quality variations, thereby transforming and distributing power more safely.
Automation solutions are not cost competitive. How does Schneider balance this in the Indian market?
Automation is a necessity in current times. Industrial automation can play a crucial role in energy efficiency and can set a credible platform for automation technology. Moreover, with regulations around health, safety and environment becoming stringent with each passing year, industrial automation can prove a reliable tool for manufacturing industry to meet future challenges.
Today all the power utilities across the country are talking about automation as the future of power sector. Each and every utility is working hard towards achieving a smarter, reliable and consumer friendly structure. Here is where automation comes into the picture and helps utilities to monitor, collect, store and transmit energy metre data and substation data to the central server. Hence automation helps utilities to develop a fully integrated system that helps reduce overall energy consumption.