Eaton is a power management company that provides energy efficient solutions to help its customers effectively manage electrical, hydraulic and mechanical power more reliably, safely and sustainably. For Eaton, which recorded net sales of over $21.4 billion in 2019 globally, India is a promising market with significant potential. In an interview with Power Line, Uday Yadav, president and chief operating officer, Electrical Sector, Eaton, spoke about new and emerging utility requirements, relevant technologies and solutions, and the company’s plans for the Indian power sector. Excerpts…
What is your perspective on the current state of the power sector in India? What are the biggest unresolved challenges?
There has been tremendous progress in India over the past decade, with a national grid in place and last-mile connectivity delivered to rural and urban areas. Although this has been a good first step, opportunities still exist, particularly in the last mile delivery of power and the associated unreliability. I think one of the biggest challenges is how to reach a point where every Indian citizen has access to power, whenever and for however long they want it. Eaton, with its huge experience, is looking to work towards this goal.
What are some of the new and promising technology trends that you see in the power sector?
There are a number of technology trends in the industry in general, particularly in the power industry. We work across the electrical value chain, delivering by-products and services to ensure secure and safe distribution and delivery of quality electricity to the point of use in an optimised fashion. The addition of renewable energy and local storage capacity and its impact on energy delivery are some of the key concerns facing the industry. The energy industry is transitioning to a different kind of world with the addition of electric vehicles as well.
The second trend is digitalisation, that is, a combination of internet of things and the capability to leverage information and assets. To optimise energy and achieve efficiency, it is important to leverage information, digitalisation. This is where I think the industry is going next to solve some real challenging problems focused on sustainability. A key challenge associated with digitalisation is cybersecurity, which requires making products and services safe and secure. In this area, Eaton is really leading the way, having externally certified and qualified for cybersecurity threats.
The third trend we are seeing is the change in the business model itself. Consumers are producing more power locally in communities, and they have essentially become prosumers. They produce and consume and that is a whole new dynamics for the industry to cope with around the world. This will change how we perceive and optimise power. So, the whole concept of prosumers is very relevant and real, particularly in India, which will have 40 per cent renewables over time.
How can distribution utilities address issues related to power quality more effectively?
There is a need to really look at how we can optimise renewables coming into the grid. I think there is a need to look at more backup power solutions such as batteries. If we talk about power quality, we should be clear about its definition – it should be reliable and available on time. I also think we need to look at solutions for SF6 (sulphur hexafluoride), which impacts the environment significantly.
How has been Eaton’s journey in the Indian market so far?
Eaton is a $21.4 billion revenue company, with over 101,000 employees around the world. Our vision is to improve the quality of life and the environment with power management technologies and services. To this end, we are focusing on innovation and sustainability. We have always been a strong company focused on safety and distribution efficiency, and we will continue down that path with a positive outlook.
Eaton has been present in India for quite a few decades with close to 5,500 employees. We have eight manufacturing locations and almost 90 other locations around the country. We have a large state-of-the-art innovation centre spread over 390,000 square feet at Magarpatta City in Pune. We have had a very strong track record of growing in India. That said, we are at a very early stage and have a huge potential ahead of us. Investments have continuously flowed in. We see India as a cornerstone of our strategy, both to leverage the great talent base we have here, which we know is growing given the positive demographics and unlimited opportunities in the market for us.
What are your top priorities for Eaton for the next one to two years? What are the company’s growth plans?
Over the next one to two years, Eaton will focus on achieving the goals set out with our investors and as we go into this year, we will be dealing with some market conditions globally. Our goal is to ensure that we deliver on our commitments to our shareholders. All our businesses right now are at the top end of expectations and the trend is likely to continue. In the next one to two years, we are going to build strategies and continue to execute them. These include moving towards energy transition, building more core products that are safety and protection oriented, and equipping them with digital solutions focused on very specific end-market segments.
What are the key issues and concerns that need to be addressed to ensure greater uptake of power management technologies?
I think there needs to be greater collaboration around standards and prioritisation of technologies. I think this can be achieved by concerted efforts of the government, industry and end customers, all coming together to help define the path that needs to be adopted.
What is the company’s outlook for the power sector globally and in India?
We feel very positive about the growth of the power sector in general as well as in India. The move towards more renewable energy sources implies more power being decentralised, which will lead to greater demand for microgrids and switchgear. The uptime requirements are significant. Thus, there is a need for backup power solutions.
Wherever we look, power demand is increasing with growing connectivity. So I think both globally and within India, we will continue to see a positive growth rate in the industry over the medium to long term.