The African continent has this year been plagued by pertinent and recurring challenge; how can it ramp up efficiency to mitigate the unstable energy provision faced by many of its regions?

Vladimir Milovanovic, Vice President, Power Systems Anglophone Africa at Schneider Electric emphasises that whilst parts of the continent are going through an energy crisis, there is also opportunity to take a different direction, learn from the mistakes in the past and map a more sustainable and progressive way forward.

“We are looking at ways to enable utilities to find solutions to current challenges whilst addressing sustainability goals.  Four pillars that enable these are operational efficiency, reliability and resilience, grid efficiency and grid flexibility,” said Milovanovic.

“Another key enabler is embracing digital technology, collecting the data from all our processes, analyse this vast amount of data using machine learning models to turn in into actionable information, and look at the current and future power provision scenarios in a proactive rather than reactive manner.”

Looking closer at the technology that will assist utilities; an accurate, unified and standards-driven model, built on a secure and robust digital platform, is key. For example, all smart grid applications should align with the IEC 61850 that defines communication protocols for intelligent electronic devices at electrical substations.

Referring to abovementioned first pillar, operational efficiency, Milovanovic notes tighter integration between the field workers and the control will offer quantifiable gains.  “Field workers need visibility, whether it’s with handheld devices or constant contact with the control rooms. It has been found that improved integration between field services teams and controls rooms can lead to a 60% improvement in productivity. “

“A kilowatt saved is worth a lot more than a kilowatt produced. By being efficient and saving energy we are reducing transmission losses, distribution infrastructure losses, reserve capacity whilst meeting our net zero goals,” he concludes.

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