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Schneider Electric calls for renewable energy adoption, digitalisation

By Joseph Onyekwere
07 December 2022   |   5:21 am
Global specialist in energy management and automation, Schneider Electric, has said the production of electricity through thermal power plants in Nigeria is counterproductive to growing sustainability imperative of reducing carbon emissions.

Schneider Electric

Global specialist in energy management and automation, Schneider Electric, has said the production of electricity through thermal power plants in Nigeria is counterproductive to growing sustainability imperative of reducing carbon emissions.

Managing Director, Anglophone West Africa, Christophe Begat, said though Nigeria has the potential to generate 12,522MW of electricity from its existing plants, it is currently unable to dispatch beyond 4,000MW, which constitutes a short supply.

He blamed this gap on significant waste and inefficient processes that have gone unchecked for a long time.

According to Begat, thermal processes account for 78 per cent of total electricity production. As a result, he said Schneider Electric sees a pressing need to factor in priorities, such as accessibility, reliability and affordability, and most importantly, sustainability, following the company’s new electrification strategy for Nigeria.

Schneider Electric estimates the share of electricity in the global energy mix will grow from six per cent to, at least, 40 per cent by 2040.
However, the energy company says its focus is not only on higher electrification but also on the means of electricity production, which is currently dominated by energy and carbon-intensive thermal plants. Schneider Electric is, therefore, re-imagining the sustainability of electricity through a revolutionary solution it has phrased ‘Electricity 4.0’.

Electricity 4.0 entails two primary tasks – renewables adoption and digitalisation. According to Schneider Electric, Electricity 4.0 posits a more-electric, more-digital world that gives more and wastes less.

From renewables-led production to fully digitalised electric grids for reliable dispatchability, Electricity 4.0 represents a change from conventional electricity, one that requires all stakeholders to move from conventional ways toward a sustainable shift.

This shift is so paramount and critical, Begat says, noting that the “zero” in Electricity 4.0 connotes a zero-waste, zero-emissions, and zero-carbon future.

Globally, there is a visible shift toward renewables, he stated, noting: “Schneider Electric estimates the contribution of renewable sources, such as solar and hydro, to electricity production to increase six folds by 2040.

“For instance, systemic strengths, such as hydropower, currently accounts for about 22 per cent of Nigeria’s electricity production, an opportunity which must be harnessed at scale.”

The firm, therefore, recommended that Nigeria and the larger West Africa must align with this energy transition.

“Similarly, sustainability experts suggest that if renewables contribution is scaled to 50 per cent by 2030, the resulting electricity could be, at least, 10 per cent cheaper, compared to the one produced by thermal plants. This will invariably complement affordability,” Begat explained.

He proposed that existing systems must be digitalised through Internet of Things (IoT) and analytics solutions/retrofits, which can provide insights pertaining to inefficiencies, excessive energy usage, and faulty equipment.

Following a few case studies with Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure (an IoT-led, plug-and-play, open, interoperable architecture platform), Schneider Electric reports that it registered up to 80 per cent reduction in engineering costs and time, up to 75 per cent reduction in maintenance costs, and up to 50 per cent reduction in carbon footprint, on average, across sectors.

By acting on insights, the Managing Director argues that practitioners can unlock savings in energy and maintenance costs and reduce carbon emissions, which have strong implications for affordability and sustainability.

He said: “The nuanced, data-driven understanding can further open opportunities to add renewables to the mix and rationalise the adoption of IoT sensors and smart devices across the electricity value chain.”