Electricity 4.0: Powering the New Electric World

Sudibyo Wiradji (The Jakarta Post) Jakarta ● Wed, August 11, 2021

The pandemic has transformed almost every aspect of our world. Introducing dramatic changes to our jobs, habits, child care, health care and even our collective sense of time. It is in the midst of the crisis that human interaction and our environment become more relevant than ever showing us that. Despite of the need to address current urgencies, the biggest challenge of our generation is climate change. We can simply no longer ignore it.

We are the first generation that truly understands climate change and according to Schneider Electric, we are also able to combat it by applying existing technologies. Schneider Electric states that the solution is a more electric and more digital world, and it calls this Electricity 4.0.

Roberto Rossi, cluster president Schneider Electric Indonesia and Timor Leste, in a written interview with The Jakarta Post gives more insights on how digital technology and electricity will help us to create a more sustainable future.

What is Electricity 4.0 and why is it important?

Supporting the industry 4.0 revolution we are witnessing the convergence of digital and electric at scale driving innovations and efficiency. This is giving birth to what we call Electricity 4.0: Powering the New Electric World. One which is more sustainable and more resilient.

We firmly believe that the solution is a world that is more electric and more digital. Since electricity is the fastest route to cleaner, smarter, more efficient energy.

Why is electricity the best energy source for a clean future?

In a race against time, electricity offers the fastest, safest and most cost-effective way to decarbonize our societies.

Electricity is the most efficient energy (proven to be three-to-five times more efficient than other sources). It is also the best vector for decarbonization (we expect to see six times more electricity coming from renewables by 2040. From 6 percent today to 40 percent in the next 20 years).

During this transformation we will have two additional positive outcomes. On the one hand, fewer energy transmission losses. Since renewables provide energy in a much more decentralized way, at any scale and in closer proximity to their point of use. And on the other hand, this shift toward renewables will help people around the world to access energy. Whether that be in developed or developing countries.

What is your view on electricity that is derived from fossil fuels or nuclear?

The reality is that the way we power our operations is fueled by 20th century technology. Over 80 percent of our energy demand is met by fossil fuels and is distributed through outdated systems that are passive and disconnected.

As energy plays such a vital role in the climate crisis, we need to upgrade each stage of the value chain from generation (with cleaner energy production). Going through distribution (with more microgrids closer to points of consumption and more access to energy). To usage (with metering and smart technology to empower users with visibility and efficiency).

And here’s the good news, the technology already exists today to do this. Our role is to help educate people about it, so that we can collectively accelerate the journey to net-zero and, as such key influencers, you of course all have a vital role to play too.

What are the benefits of Electricity 4.0 for customers, partners and industry?

Electricity 4.0 is the “fuel” for the New Electric World, one which is more sustainable and more resilient by the convergence of digital and electric at scale with software driving efficiency.

Electricity makes energy green since, as was stated, it is more efficient and it can be generated in a cleaner way and near to the demand. In parallel, the conversion with digital builds a smart future by making the invisible visible. Driving efficiency and eliminating energy waste. More than 60 percent of energy produced is wasted. Efficiency is often overlooked, despite being one of the fastest ways to reduce consumption.

Our customers, partners and the wider industry are looking for ways to decarbonize. And Electricity 4.0 delivers measurable, sustainable outcomes with technologies that already exist today.

Electricity 4.0 is also future proof. Innovation today relies heavily on both electric and digital. From gadgets that make our lives better, to digital home-working, to e-mobility. And Schneider, as the most sustainable corporation in the world, is helping drive change in the world to make our customers’ and partners’ operations more sustainable.

How does Electricity 4.0 benefit the planet?

In line with the Paris Agreement, we seek to keep the average global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Recognizing that this will significantly reduce the risks and effects of climate change.

In a practical way, we already spend more than the 70 percent of our “environmental budget”. Since today we are at +1.1 degrees Celsius and energy is responsible for over 80 percent of the world’s carbon emissions. Electricity 4.0 facilitates a shift to cleaner energy, while simultaneously eliminating energy waste.

Furthermore, the digital grid, which is becoming the cornerstone of the transformation, will be able to support a 75-85 percent decarbonized power-generation mix. Enabling bi-directional decentralized power transfers. In the future, this innovation will allow consumers and companies alike to generate their own clean energy through renewables. As well as selling it back to the market or stored for future use by implementing microgrid solutions.

Are there any infrastructure/energy grid modifications required to be able to support Electricity 4.0?

The current transmission and distribution grid should be optimized and upgraded. Through advanced distributed management solutions (ADMS) an IT-OT platform integration to support the new power generation. And consumption landscape in terms of stability, operation and new energy trading.

On top of that, we should invest in new distributed energy resources (DERs) to improve the responsiveness, agility and reliability of the grid as the world moves to electric vehicles and other special trends.

As we unceasingly look to decarbonize through electrification, the requirements of grid resilience will rise in line with increased connectivity, digitization and sustainability efforts. The grid must modernize to meet the needs of the New Digital World.

How can Indonesia take advantage of Electricity 4.0 in order to achieve its SDG targets?

Indonesia is one of the countries in Asia that have enormous potential in terms of the production and use of renewable energy. As well as the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. In terms of penetration of digital technology, especially in the industrial sector, the government of Indonesia is also very engaged in facilitating and encouraging local industry players in digital transformation. Taking into account that Indonesia’s electrification ratio has reached 99.3 percent and internet penetration more is than 70 percent nationally. Indonesia already has the pillars to implement Electricity 4.0.

Of course, this needs to be accompanied by infrastructure investments and human resource competency development. Infrastructure development includes digital infrastructure, electricity infrastructure and renewable energy infrastructure. In terms of HR competency development, we must consider skills in energy management, digital transformation and software. So we have good reasons to be optimistic, technologies do exist and are readily available today. It’s time collectively to deploy Electricity 4.0 at scale. We are confident this is the fastest way to deliver results for businesses and for the planet.