If there has been one constant topic of the 2021 Ovation Users’ Conference, it has been that change is everywhere, and the message from Monil Malhotra, vice president of North America projects and sales and Steve Graf, director of North America sales was no exception.
Change is particularly striking in power because it has been a slow and stable industry for so long. Monil explained that change in the power industry can be classified in two primary categories: sustainability and digital transformation.
Start seeing sustainability
Sustainability initiatives are shaking up the power industry in North America. In the US, 39 of 50 states have already published aggressive clean energy targets, and some states even have a deadline of 2025 to meet 100% of those targets.
Of course, meeting these targets will require new access to renewable sources of energy, and the number one fastest growing source is photovoltaic (PV) solar. Monil elaborated,
“Solar generation is expected to double by 2025 and quadruple by 2030. This would get us to about 3,000 gigawatts of global solar generated electricity by 2030.”
That may sound like a lot, and it is, but with the continual decreases in cost of PV solar energy, the actual numbers are even trending ahead of that estimate.
This rapid transition is driving the need for additional energy/battery storage. Producers will need to dramatically increase storage capacity to meet the demands of the grid. The good news is, this technology, too, is quickly continuing to drop in cost while quality continues to rise. Monil shared some startling details:
“Over the past three years, the costs of a typical utility-scale energy storage project have dropped 70 percent. That gives us a feel for just how quickly these costs and technologies are evolving.”
Even wind, bio power, and green hydrogen are being adopted quickly. Globally, over the next 20 years, the ratios of plants using these generation methods will only increase.
Digital transformation empowers an energy revolution
The shift toward new power production methods both requires and is empowered by digital transformation. Monil explained,
“Three main factors are driving digital transformation on existing assets as well as new assets today: safety, efficiency, and reliability.”
Monil shared some of the wide array of digital transformation tools organizations are using to become more efficient, cost effective, and safer including:
- Smart grids
- Digital twin simulation
- Data analytics
- Artificial intelligence
Water under pressure
The same seismic shift that we see in power is also happening in water. Aging assets and infrastructure are driving the need for digital transformation. Monil explained,
“There’s a need for data aggregation, analytics, KPIs and asset management.”
Much of this change is likely to come from the government’s $111 billion investment package for water infrastructure. These investments coupled with the need for digital transformation will bring massive changes.
Positioned for success
Emerson’s long history with the traditional power generation systems that form the foundation of our nation’s infrastructure keep us well positioned to help customers execute the modernizations, cybersecurity upgrades, and operational excellence initiatives supporting safe, efficient performance. Steve explained,
“Currently in fossil we are implementing many greenfield combined cycle projects, and we expect to continue seeing new combined cycle builds for the foreseeable future.”
In retrofit projects, many organizations are addressing reliability and operational issues including replacements of obsolete control systems, adding cybersecurity, and expanding the existing Ovation system. In addition, Emerson is helping customers with software and strategies to address the retiring workforce,
“It’s a lot easier to maintain a single platform, and it’s a lot easier to train new employees on just one system.”
In addition, Emerson has seen a massive expansion in hydro, solar, and wind projects. In hydro, Steve explained, Emerson has,
“expanded our capabilities by combining extensive hydro expertise augmented by the April 2, 2020 acquisition of American Governor, with Emerson’s leading software and technology to deliver comprehensive hydropower solutions.”
And to address the new, more complex grids, products like the Ovation microcontroller, advanced power applications, and OSI digital grid solutions added to our growing software portfolio by the October 1, 2020 acquisition of Open Systems International Inc., allows Emerson to,
“go from generation to transmission to distribution and really meet the challenges and complexity of the grid to keep our customers successful.”
Learn more about Emerson’s digitally transformative software and technologies that drive collaboration for successful project implementation by visiting our Process Control for Power & Water Industries section on Emerson.com.