How are Future Energy Consumption Trends Enhancing Substation Automation Prospects?

By Nikhil Kaitwade

Head of the Industrial Automation Domain

Future Market Insights (FMI)

March 16, 2021


How are Future Energy Consumption Trends Enhancing Substation Automation Prospects?
(Image courtesy of Pixabay)

With the scramble to secure efficient and renewable energy sourced power and electricity requirements, industry giants are expected to leverage three prominent approaches to streamline distribution capabilities: accelerating carbon neutral delivery; augmenting virtual reality capacities and striving for democratic; and decentralized business models

As reliance on conventional energy sources declines in the future, dependence on renewable energy is expected to rise, stimulating heightened need for electrification. As distribution energy networks fast replace traditional utility models, digital transformation is imperative to ensure success. As a consequence, prolific development abound for substation automation in the future.

While energy transformation has dominated analytical discourse since the dawn of the 21st century, the recent coronavirus pandemic crisis is presenting immense opportunities to render this transition a reality sooner than anticipated. Hence, incorporation of SCADA systems to supervise and regulate energy flow so as to prevent wastage have acquired an accelerated pace.

Prominent market research firm Future Market Insights projects that substation automation deployment is expected to bank on surging efficiency demand from the utilities, oil & gas, transportation and electricity generation sectors, pegging expansion at a CAGR of over 5% through 2031.

How is Carbon Free Electricity Delivery Aiding Substation Automation?

As global carbon emissions deceleration initiatives acquire pace, the scope for substation automation is becoming immensely wide. Energy production and use accounts for nearly three out of four cases of greenhouse gas emissions. Consequently, energy providers are incorporating three important strategies: optimize, electrify, and decarbonize, leading to increased deployment of automated energy optimization systems.

Current decarbonization trends ushered in by the pandemic crisis is an outcome of significant reduction in energy consumption across commercial and industrial spaces. Key providers have already made significant strides in this regard. For instance, Xcel Energy achieved a 12% reduction in overall carbon emission levels over 2019, delivering 100% carbon-free electricity to its end-users for the second consecutive year.

Furthermore, development of hydrogen based electricity generation and deployment is experiencing a major upswing. According to the International Energy Agency, growing interest in electrolytic hydrogen have spurred several demonstration projects in recent years. Producing all of current hydrogen output shall result in electricity demand of 3,600 TWh. Such voluminous output is naturally anticipated to heighten demand for efficient deployment monitoring solutions, paving way for increased growth of substation automation solutions’ popularity.

Virtual Power Plants (VPP) Becoming the Need of the Hour

As power distribution needs expand, high degrees of sophisticated automation and analytics are imperative to manage a system powered my multiple energy sources. Deployment of predictive analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence and IoT have become commonplace across power distribution grids. The most poignant of all developments is that of virtual power plants, such as the one on the Scottish Inner Hebrides of Eigg. Likewise, Next Kraftwerke from Cologne, Germany operates a virtual power plant in seven European countries.

Also, ABB’s Symphony Plus solutions for renewables and virtual power plants has taken the power distribution landscape by storm, offering a new generation of control systems capable of achieving total power plant automation. With stringent grid code specifications in place, the Symphony Plus platform offers its SD I/O hardware and SPC700 controller. It offers active and reactive power control along with a consistent voltage input.

On a similar plane, Siemens offers the EnergyIP DEMS Demand Response and Virtual Power Plant system, providing aggregation and energy management systems to ensure cost efficient integration of renewables while simultaneously avoiding grid extension. Using intelligent algorithms, the control system can generate individual schedules for steerable plants, enabling a linkage between demand and supply. Such prolific advancements are widening substation automation deployment prospects.

Democratic Business Models to Spell Auspicious Tidings

Swift renewable energy deployment is spurring rapid decentralization and democratization of existing power distribution arrangements, as centralized energy distribution are leading to gross inequalities in power availability amid monopolistic tendencies relied upon by established conglomerates. Hence, a distributed energy network has sprouted wherein primary energy consumers manage an independent energy portfolio.

This decentralization trend is spurring machine to machine connections which, according to the World Economic Forum, was forecast to reach 12 billion devices by 2020, with nearly 50% of these deployed at the connected home levels. Such in-home devices, according to it, could offer services beyond domestic comfort, helping optimize local grids, enabling energy consumers to make more informed and granular consumption decisions.

With future energy and power distribution approaches set to embrace decentralized models, each organization will be expected to be able to store, produce and sell energy on a real-time basis. This is likely to stimulate future investments in IoT devices necessary for the same. Hence, substation automation sales will expand as well.

Exciting Growth Prospects Abound for the Future

With the global utilities industry incur rising capital costs, shaped by numerous macroeconomic factors, key businesses will be required to embrace innovation and transformation. Initiatives to shore up renewable energy generation, power storage and distribution will witness a considerable incline. Attributed to these larger developments, a massive proportion of revenue is likely to be directed towards leveraging automation and other technological advancements.

With global energy requirements expected to gather inertia, it is perceived as a given that a uniform progress towards renewable consumption shall prevail. However, differing incorporation and implementation capacities of different countries is expected to skew this transition. Hence, deploying a standardized system is essential, for which significant strides are being undertaken, including deploying a decentralized distribution system. This is prompting heightened power substation automation initiatives.

Nikhil Kaitwade heads the Industrial Automation domain at ESOMAR-certified market research and consulting firm Future Market Insights (FMI). The award-winning firm is headquartered in Dubai, with offices in the US, UK, and India. The insights presented in this article are based on a report by FMI on Substation Automation Market.

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