Future of Power Distribution

The global energy demand is likely to increase by more than 25 per cent by 2040 (from that recorded in 2017), as per o International Energy Agency (IEA). The increase would be around twice as large if the improvements in energy efficiency are not continued. Most of this growth in demand is expected to come from developing economies, led by India. There have been significant changes in the way electricity is being generated and distributed with introduction of distributed energy resources, electric vehicles, energy efficiency initiatives, etc. This new electric world is having the biggest impact on distribution utilities that are responsible for final delivery of electricity to the consumers.

Enabling the utilities in development of power distribution systems of future is digitalisation and internet of things (IoT). The distribution grid ecosystem is moving rapidly away from a displacement and replacement paradigm to ubiquitous connectivity and technology recombination. Transactions are increasingly being digitised with generation of humungous amounts data and connection of people to the grid ecosystem more than ever before. Significant innovations in technology are underway in order to build a smart, secure, and sustainable power distribution system of tomorrow.

One of the key components of the power distribution infrastructure responsible for reliable power supply is switchgear, combination of electrical disconnect switches, fuses or circuit breakers used to control, protect and isolate electrical equipment.  Bringing in IoT to conventional circuit-breakers, Schneider Electric has introduced Masterpact MTZ, their series of smart circuit breakers. These circuit-breakers and its likes help to improve safety, offer greater cybersecurity, and make power distribution system more reliable, efficient, and sustainable.

Addressing changing consumer needs

Needs of various stakeholders at the power consumption end; including investors, facility managers and end consumers; have evolved over the years. Building investors want short but reliable project lead times, flexible and scalable investments, valuable energy labels and ratings of the equipment while complying to building codes and regulations. At the same time, managers of a building/facility are more interested in high quality service, efficient electrical systems, ability to stay connected and take actions from a remote location and quick restoration of power in case of an outage. The consumers, on the other hand, want power availability at all times, optimization of their expenses on energy consumption, low maintenance costs, comfort and productivity.

Masterpact MTZ circuit breakers meet all these needs with smart connectivity, remote monitoring, and easy customization via digital modules. The circuit-breakers have an intuitive smartphone app for easy operation and maintenance and a power meter built in for energy-saving capabilities. The circuit-breakers are easy to customize with digital modules and install using established architectures. They have been designed and tested to applicable standards for ANSI, UL, and IEC.

Improved connectivity, precision, scalability and durability

The software of the circuit-breakers brings energy data, circuit breaker control, and load management directly to a smartphone (on site) which can be connected via bluetooth or NFC. Such a connection helps monitor main data to avoid downtime, review secure, critical data and power metering details, monitor electrical data (currents, voltages, energy consumption, power quality, phase balance, and harmonics), and review and modify protection settings related to load levels, warnings and alarms. In case of a trip, the power can be restored quickly and outside of the arc flash zone using the smartphone. Even if circuit breaker is de-energised, key event data (stored before trip) can be accessed via NFC connection to quickly identify and understand the cause of the trip.

Maintenance reminders and real-time alerts can also be received irrespective of the location. Further, saved details of past events (data and documents, self-diagnosis, event type, severity level, time stamp, etc.) can also be accessed remotely and shared with experts and management experts.

With a built-in power meter, the switchgear provides instant and comprehensive views of power consumption. They provide instant access to power consumption data along with analysis on energy usage, trends, and energy costs allocation without having to run any analytics software, thereby making active power and energy management more efficient and accurate.

The installation is also very easy with the Ecoreach software.  Masterpact MTZ circuit breakers are adaptable to different systems because of their digital capabilities. Further, additional digital modules for advanced functions such as system protection, measurement, diagnostics and maintenance are available which can be used to enhance energy management, power quality management, and power outage management. These can be updated at any stage of the life cycle – during configuration, commissioning, or even operation.

Designed to endure voltage fluctuations, electromagnetic disturbances, vibrations and mechanical shocks, corrosive and chemical atmospheres and severe temperatures, Masterpact MTZ circuit breakers keep the electrical system online even in harsh environments.

In sum, Masterpact MTZ circuit breakers are streamlined using its digital capabilities at every stage of the project — from designing and configuring to operating and maintaining. The digital modules provide the ability to add functions based on one standard control unit, helping to reduce initial investment in a project and making the circuit breakers scalable to future needs. They are compliant with electrical distribution and energy efficiency standards and regulations. Moreover, they are tested and proven to withstand harsh conditions. In addition, the embedded ethernet connection and a built-in power meter help to increase energy efficiency by providing comprehensive data on any building or power management system.


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