Towards Electricity 4.0: Powering the new electric world and achieving net zero

Powering the new electric world and achieving net zero

Sanjay Sudhakaran, Vice-President, Power Systems, Schneider Electric India

Accelerating the progress towards a greener future with sustainable actions can mitigate global warming and climate change, and help achieve decarbonisation. While India stands committed to achieving decarbonisation, pro-electric and pro-digital efforts are paving the way for meeting the sustainable development goals.

In­­dia recorded an all-time high peak power demand of 201.066 GW in April this year. With rising demand, it beco­m­es imperative to reduce the depende­ncy on fossil fuels and switch to clean energy. The country has set a target of inc­re­asing its non-fossil fuel power capacity to 500 GW by 2030. Electricity 4.0, which is a sustainable and efficient way of po­w­er generation and consumption by le­ve­raging digital technologies and renewables, can power the new electric world, help achieve the net zero target and build a sustainable future.

With India’s reliance on renewable sources increasing, harnessing new-age technologies such as cloud computing and internet of things can make electricity generation and consumption cost-effective and the system more efficient. It can be supplemented by digital technologies with smart metering, ma­king it possible to track energy consu­m­p­tion and thus prevent energy was­tage. The deployment of Electricity 4.0 in homes, buildings, data centres and industries can help attain a more sustainable, re­silient and efficient infrastructure to de­crease the carbon footprint in the future. Further, smart devices, data analytics and apps help in addressing the dema­nd-supply imbalance, generating valuable insights and unlocking the full potential for greater energy savings.

The menace of climate change and the alarming rise in pollution levels have made it necessary to take concrete steps to address environmental concerns. The drive towards Electricity 4.0 is not a choice but a necessity. At this juncture, Electricity 4.0 is critical to lead the de­carbonisation efforts, maintain global temperatures from exceeding the prescribed levels and prevent energy im­balance. Countries across the globe have agreed to take actions to limit global warming below 2 degrees Celsius as part of the Paris Agreement. Electrifying al­mo­st every process backed by smart te­chnology and renewables can help ac­hieve this goal and also bring huge env­ironmental, sociological and economic benefits for all.

It is promising that the focus on electricity-based equipment is growing. Higher adoption of e-mobility, switching to electric heating and achieving electric aviation fleet are some examples that show how electrification is leading the war against climate change. Elect­ri­city 4.0 puts the focus on extracting electricity from renewable sources such as solar, hydro and wind. The chances of getting energy from these renewable sources are limitless. With zero combustion and no carbon footprint, it will be possible to meet energy requirements 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 Defence Council in the US, an electric vehicle motor converts 85 per cent of electrical energy into mechanical energy. Internal combustion engines only convert 40 per cent. This is just an example that shows how mass electrification can reduce the dependence on fossil fuels.

The shift to Electricity 4.0 is critical to pro­tect the planet from the toxic impact of degrading climate and related environmental concerns. A lot more has to be done. According to the Intergovern­me­ntal Panel on Climate Change, if the global temperature rise is not mainta­ined within 1.5 degrees Celsius, it will lead to a substantial rise in sea levels that can put the lives of millions of people at risk.

Sustainability has become a global priority and with innovation and technological advancements happening at a rapid pace, Electricity 4.0 can put India at an advantage. The country is set to become the most populated in the world and it is great that it is standing committed to its sustainability goals. As per the Interna­ti­onal Energy Agency’s India En­ergy Out­l­ook 2021, the country exceeds the goals set out in its nationally deter­mi­ned contribution, with the energy emission intensity improving by 40 per cent from 2005 to 2030, which is more than its stated target. While leading the global action against climate ch­an­ge and increasing the focus on Elec­tricity 4.0 for transforming into an all-electric ecosystem, India will bolster its position as a leader on the world map.