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    Banking: Climatic Ep 4.3: What Grid Operators Want


    June 8, 2022 - ForeignAffairs.co.nz

     

      Source: Asia Development Bank

      Our electrical grids are undergoing a fundamental shift in the way they operate. Decentralization could provide both greater resilience and a greener overall power supply. However, many obstacles remain to making distributed generation a reality. Are grid operators prepared to deal with unprecedented challenges? This episode of Climatic decodes solutions the grid operators want to help meet the changing needs of the market and expectations of policymakers and consumers.

      Climatic is ADB Ventures’ series about the innovators decarbonizing Asia and the Pacific. It is produced by the Asian Development Bank and ADB Ventures with financial support from the Climate Investment Funds’ Clean Technology Fund program. The latest Climatic video series?features interviews with innovators, investors, and infrastructure operators who are working to make electricity grids stronger, greener, and more resilient.

      Transcript

      Linh Thai 00:09

      Welcome back. Our electrical grids are undergoing a fundamental shift in the way they operate. The top-down centralized delivery model is fast approaching its use by date. But how do the companies that have managed these essential and national assets respond to the rapidly evolving demands of their customers and regulators? Can grid operators meet the biggest challenge that they’ve ever faced? And where are the opportunities for investors, such as myself, to provide solutions?

      To discuss this and more is Jan Palasinski from Future Energy Ventures, part of the grid operator E.ON Germany. Thanks for being here, Jan. In simple terms, what is it that the grid operators want?

      Jan Palasinski 00:51

      Their target is to have their customers happy with energy flowing all the time, and policymakers happy with energy that is reliable, cheap and possibly as green as possible.

      Linh Thai 01:05

      You make that sound so simple, Jan. I look forward to finding out how this can be achieved. More from Jan in a moment. But first, we’re going to hear from the largest utility provider in the world, China’s State Grid. Arthur Hu, the Investment Director at their Center of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, has prepared a short statement on some of China’s State Grid’s priorities.

      Arthur Hu 01:24

      (The People’s Republic of) China has pledged to peak carbon emissions before 2030, and strives to achieve carbon neutrality before 2016. By 2030, (the People’s Republic of) China’s wind and solar power generation capacity will reach 1.2 billion kilowatts, the company will spend an average of more than $70 billion each year to upgrade the energy internet. So here, the energy internet is a smart energy system based on a strong smart grid, and will continue to promote the transition to a cleaner and low carbon energy system.

      Linh Thai 01:58

      Thank you, Arthur. There are two things that really jumped out there for me Jan: the huge increase in renewables, and the need for digital solution. Why are these such important factors in the evolution of grid operation?

      Jan Palasinski 02:10

      In the past, there were a few big assets, so it was manageable. Now that there are thousands, millions of smaller assets, humans just cannot cope with this. And now that renewables are picking up and the world is becoming more and more decentralized, there is a clear need for digitalization, we are looking at how to improve the existing grid, because the alternative is to build the more and more of this grid, which is expensive and not really environmentally friendly. And it’s obvious that military leaders have to become among the most innovative companies in the world, compared to the past where that didn’t really matter too much.

      Linh Thai 02:55

      Are they poised to do that? I mean, it feels like these are really big old companies that you’re now asking to become nimble and very innovative. Is that possible?

      Jan Palasinski 03:06

      Of course, it’s possible. I see really here at E.ON, they wish to become innovative. They are running, for example, the startup challenges since three, four years, defining the specific problem they are seeking solutions for, they call for startup ideas, the startups’ pitch, they select some of them to run a pilot with E.ON, and then with the best ones, they make a full rollout. So, it’s really happening.

      Linh Thai 03:38

      That’s a great approach from a large company and a fantastic opportunity for startups. What solutions have you seen that are really making a difference to the way E.ON is working?

      Jan Palasinski 03:47

      One example is actually a company called Envelio, they have built a software system that creates a digital twin of the grid. This makes it possible for the distribution system operators to really gain this transparency in a week’s time rather than going point to point of the grid and annotate what is where were adding sensors here and there. So it’s a very quick way to understand where the connection points are, for example, for new renewables. Rather than having a very skilled or trained human look into a map, do the calculations and see whether that is possible, typically could take one or two weeks. So they provided a digital solution that was so outstanding that E.ON has even acquired it later. And not only the grid operator benefits, but also the renewable energy producers who now can go and install their assets much quicker.

      Linh Thai 04:53

      As you said, Jan, innovation is still possible in these large companies, even when it’s a new part of their corporate culture. Thanks for speaking with me today.

      Linh Thai 05:07

      Grid operators are the guardians of one of the most essential resources for modern living. But the introduction of new technologies such as EVs, and the urgent need to decarbonize are putting them under pressure to innovate like never before. The good news is that it’s possible and they’re willing to try. But where did the solutions come from? Can plucky little startups get the access and funding they need to revolutionize the grid sector? I’ll be speaking with two venture investors to find out where the smart money is going. Next time only on Climatic.

      MIL OSI Global Banks -

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