Paradigm Shift – Philippe Delorme speaks on preparing buildings for power distribution’s new paradigm

The author is executive VP, building and IT business, Schneider Electric.

We’ve all seen that there’s been a major shift in power distribution. The centralised model is rapidly being replaced by a decentralised distribution model. We know this transformation opens the door for building operators to take advantage of alternative energy sources and energy storage. This new paradigm, however, requires more advanced metering and innovative power infrastructure.

Digitisation holds the key here for enabling the power industry to make this change, while also keeping building uptime, safety, and energy efficiency top of mind in day-to-day operations. It is interesting to note that India is among the few countries spearheading the green building movement worldwide. The Indian Green Building Council seeks to evaluate buildings on the metric of people-centric design and on the basis of certain parameters like energy consumption levels, water use and waste management.

Industry estimates suggest the current green footprint for India stands at 4.68 billion sq-ft of built-up space. The target for the green building’s footprint for the year 2022 (when India celebrates 75 years of independence), including the green cities, is 10 billion sq-ft.

The Internet of Things

It’s amazing to see how a single sensor can create a world of opportunity. At Schneider Electric, we take advantage of low-cost sensors and embed them in devices throughout a building to create connected devices. In May 2017, we launched the first-ever connected LV breaker: the Masterpact MTZ air circuit breaker. This announcement was significant for the power industry. Among other things, our R&D engineers embedded sensors on the coils so the unit can collect energy management data. As a connected device, Masterpact MTZ also can send power data to the facility manager’s smartphone for immediate action.

Our digital architecture for energy management in buildings – EcoStruxure Power – is designed to help contractors, consulting engineers, panel builders and building customers get a better handle on power distribution in this digital age. It helps facility owners improve building efficiency, safety, reliability and sustainability.

Along with the base layer of connected devices, the architecture integrates edge control to track power conditions and availability and a top layer of apps, analytics and services. This is where the cyber secure Cloud comes into play for buildings to help operators make quick decisions based on data.

EcoStruxure Asset Advisor services, for instance, use predictive analytics to improve asset management and performance. Solutions for tracking energy make consumption visible in real time, allowing facility owners to look to data for savings opportunities all the time.

Designed for today’s power industry

We’ve eliminated complexity so buildings can become IoT-ready more quickly. Since EcoStruxure Power is vendor-neutral and interoperable, it simplifies integration in building design, as well as installation. It ensures that a building’s power backbone is designed to keep up with the major shifts in the power industry such as microgrids. At the same time, we know that safety and reliability remain paramount, especially in critical facilities like hospitals.

There is great value here for small and medium buildings too. Most have limited staff on site. Our smart panels, for example, keep tabs on power quality and asset status and essentially let equipment talk to operators. Smart panels can go in large facilities as well. EcoStruxure Power also has simple Cloud-based tools that help with maintenance and quick action if there is an outage.

Empowered for the digital world

IoT really is changing everything. We see that all the time in our daily lives. Now it’s changing power distribution. To me, that’s exciting. There are so many benefits here, including better uptime and improved efficiency gains. We want to pass along this value to our partners and customers. EcoStruxure Power makes sure every aspect of your electrical distribution system can unlock new levels of efficiency and performance to compete in the digital world.

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