Solutions to Reduce Network Energy WasteWed, 02/19/2014 - 13:39
Much of the energy produced from available sources is wasted by inefficiencies in the distribution process. “In Mexico, for example, out of 3W generated, only 1W will actually be consumed, the rest gets lost in the network,” says Luis Rancé, CEO of Telvent Mexico. This alarming figure illustrates the importance of having a smart grid, he adds, explaining that all networks have losses, at least 8% of which are technical losses due to physical factors. The real challenge is in tracking intentional waste through smart grids and advanced monitoring systems.
In 2011, as part of Schneider Electric’s ambition to strengthen its positioning as a complete solution provider to its customers, it acquired Telvent. The company has specialized for over a decade in IT software and solutions for realtime management of critical infrastructure in electricity, oil and gas, water, and transportation. Telvent’s strategy in the Mexican market goes hand in hand with Schneider Electric and is the sum of both companies’ capabilities. Rancé explains that Telvent’s main goal is to complement Schneider’s software and hardware portfolio with control solutions. One of the company’s main objectives is to make products more efficient by helping detect water and energy waste, as well as limiting CO2 emissions, at both a company and state level. Rancé says that one of Telvent’s characteristics that has added value to Schneider Electric is the company’s integral project management capacity: “We develop software, but in order for software to be managed, we have to provide an integral solution, in which our products come with other components, such as sensors, which we acquire from other companies to be able to deliver extremely competitive turnkey solutions,” Rancé emphasizes. However, the market demand is not directed to the product itself, but to solutions that provide financial, productivity, and sustainability terms. “These go beyond the product and are able to reduce cost, improve efficiency, increase productivity and lower pollution, all of which are the ultimate goal,” he says.
This goal can be illustrated with the network energy waste example. Through smart systems, the points of loss are detected by Telvent’s software, generating savings and allowing for these mistakes to be corrected, thanks to Schneider’s equipment. “With our combined solutions, saving 1W at the point of use means saving 2W at the point of generation. This not only has an impact on the user’s bill, but also on the generating capacity of CFE, as the required energy to fulfill demand is lower,” Rancé points out.
On high voltage transmission, the Mexican network can compete with the performance standards of other networks in the world, but on distribution it is outdated. Rancé notes this is where the market opportunity lies. “For a long time, distribution has been left aside on a global level, but as the trend shifts towards smart grids, efforts are being concentrated on efficiency, services, and a direct relationship with the user. In this regard, the end user stops being captive and becomes a client, aware of options and different tariffs,” says Rancé. “In Mexico, bidimensional meters are already being installed. This enables the utility company to read what is going on in the user’s household and bill, without having to go to the actual location and read the meter. CFE may be willing to invest in such smart grid technology in a massive way.”
After working in CFE for 25 years, Rancé says the utility company is very zealous in the way it does things. Therefore, companies involved in the electricity sector have to adapt to CFE’s needs and pace, regardless of the options that they may have. He emphasizes that Telvent has a state-ofthe-art product to manage an electric distribution network, which has been implemented in Sweden, Finland, Italy and the US. “We are one of the best companies in smart grid development and our synergy with Schneider Electric, which is the global leader in low voltage products, is a significant point of added value. On a distribution level, 70% of the world’s energy passes through Schneider Electric equipment. Each year, Schneider Electric invests 5% of its revenue in R&D to improve its technology and allow it continue being a sectorial leader.”
Due to the high energy waste, lack of quality, and integration with the client, the Mexican distribution network has to be prioritized for development. Distribution in 23kW, 34kW, or 38kW – the voltages managed by CFE – is provided directly to the industrial sector but substations and control systems for the network are often provided by Schneider Electric. “Big consumers get their energy in blocks and do the transformation themselves, enabling them to seek for more efficient solutions,” explains Rancé. For private users such as households, the transformation is done in the street; through small cables the energy is transformed in low voltage of 127 or 220 volts. “The client requires better service at a lower cost, and all companies, us included, have to offer these solutions. Savings are not just about installed capacity, but financial and sustainable savings,” Rancé says.