Towards Electricity 4.0 – Power Line Magazine
Sanjay Sudhakaran, Vice President, Power Systems, Schneider Electric India
Accelerating progress towards a greener future through sustainable actions can mitigate global warming and climate change, and contribute to decarbonization. As India commits to achieve decarbonization, pro-electric and pro-digital efforts are paving the way for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
India recorded a record peak electricity demand of 201.066 GW in April this year. With the increase in demand, it becomes imperative to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and switch to clean energy. The country has set a target to increase its energy capacity from non-fossil fuels to 500 GW by 2030. Electricity 4.0, which is a sustainable and efficient way of generating and consuming electricity by leveraging digital technologies and renewable energy, can power the new electric world, help achieve net zero and build a sustainable future.
As India increasingly relies on renewable energy sources, harnessing new-age technologies such as cloud computing and the Internet of Things can make electricity generation and consumption cost-effective and the system more efficient. It can be complemented by digital technologies with smart meters, making it possible to monitor energy consumption and thus avoid energy waste. Deploying Electricity 4.0 in homes, buildings, data centers and industries can help achieve a more sustainable, resilient and efficient infrastructure to reduce carbon footprint in the future. Additionally, smart devices, data analytics and applications are helping to resolve the imbalance between supply and demand, generating valuable insights and unlocking the full potential for greater energy savings.
The threat of climate change and the alarming increase in pollution levels have made it necessary to take concrete action to address environmental concerns. The march towards electricity 4.0 is not a choice but a necessity. At this point, Electricity 4.0 is key to driving decarbonization efforts, preventing global temperatures from rising above prescribed levels, and preventing energy imbalances. Countries around the world have agreed to take action to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius under the Paris Agreement. Electrification of almost all processes supported by smart technologies and renewable energy can help achieve this goal and also bring huge environmental, sociological and economic benefits for all.
It is promising that the focus is on electrical equipment. The increased adoption of e-mobility, the switch to electric heating and the realization of a fleet of electric planes are a few examples that show how electrification is waging the war against climate change. Electricity 4.0 emphasizes the extraction of electricity from renewable sources such as solar, hydro and wind energy. The chances of obtaining energy from these renewable sources are limitless. With zero combustion and zero carbon footprint, it will be possible to meet energy needs and build a cleaner environment.
As electricity is the most efficient form of energy, switching to cleaner alternatives can help conserve energy. According to the National Resource Defense Council in the United States, an electric vehicle motor converts 85% of electrical energy into mechanical energy. Internal combustion engines only convert 40%. This is just one example of how mass electrification can reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
Switching to Electricity 4.0 is essential to protect the planet from the toxic impact of climate breakdown and related environmental concerns. There is still a lot to do. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, if global temperature rise is not kept below 1.5 degrees Celsius, it will lead to substantial sea level rise which can put the lives of millions of people in danger.
Sustainability has become a global priority and with innovation and technological advancements happening at a rapid pace, Electricity 4.0 can give India an edge. The country is on its way to becoming the most populous in the world and it is great that it remains committed to its sustainable development goals. According to the International Energy Agency’s India Energy Outlook 2021, the country exceeds the targets set in its Nationally Determined Contribution, with energy emissions intensity improving by 40% between 2005 and 2030, which is greater than its stated purpose. While leading the global action against climate change and putting more emphasis on Electricity 4.0 to transform into an all-electric ecosystem, India will strengthen its leadership position on the world map.