Interview with Pitamber Shivnani: “Digitisation is the biggest opportunity for the power ecosystem”

“Digitisation is the biggest opportunity for the power ecosystem”

What opportunities has the rise of renewables and e-mobility spurred within the power ecosystem?

We are witnessing unprecedented changes in both infrastructure and operation. Digitisation led by the energy revolution is the biggest opportunity for the power ecosystem today. Digital solutions such as grid automation, smart grids, digital substations, HVDC links and network monitoring hold the promise of smarter, stronger and cleaner power infrastructure.

The plethora of generation sources, from sophisticated power plants to rooftop residential and individual sources, can lead to inconsistencies and imbalance in power supply to the grid. Furthermore, the increasing number of electric vehicles (EVs) will bring an additional strain on the grid. The digital grid will help address issues of distributed energy and load balancing. Grid automation will provide the insight and control needed to ensure that high quality power is delivered reliably. Similarly, in the area of transportation, there is a demand for highly efficient modes of mobility from EVs to metros and railways. Starting with Indian Railways, which is embracing clean energy for its operations over 750 railways along the northern line – one of the world’s highest-traffic rail corridors and reducing the dependence on traditional energy sources, we will see an increasing use of alternative energy.

ABB offers power and automation products and solutions throughout the power value chain. This includes supporting essential city services with reliable, high-bandwidth communications, and enabling utilities and industries to deliver reliable electricity, water, heating and cooling services to our customers. We also offer more sustainable solutions for transportation providers within our current portfolio.

What are some of the strategies and solutions needed to successfully deploy and scale up e-mobility solutions?

In terms of the market, India is testing EV technology for public transportation in cities, which can use depot charging for overnight charging of buses. This can be leveraged successfully using existing set-ups like bus rapid transit corridors. Other early adopters of EVs are fleet services. However, at present, there are multiple standards for fast charging of passenger cars. Adapting to globally established open standards such as CCS or Chademo will help in attracting diverse car manufacturers – Japanese, European, etc. – and increasing market adoption. Understanding these diverse needs, ABB’s fast-charging stations can integrate key global standards in a single unit, thus increasing its reach and adaptability.

Furthermore, ABB connected services enable the integration of smart mobility into monitoring systems for smart grid and smart city applications. This can further be integrated with smart buildings to give an immersive experience of a truly smart city. Other features like remote payment and remote monitoring will enhance the user experience and transform urban mobility.

What are ABB’s plans for participating in the Indian EV market?

ABB entered the EV charging market back in 2010, and today has a fast growing global installed base of over 6,000 fast chargers across the world. Earlier this year, ABB partnered with Formula E to write the future of e-mobility. As the world leader in EV infrastructure, ABB offers the full range of charging solutions for electric cars, and electric and hybrid buses as well as electrification solutions for ships and railways. In India, as utilities focus on enhancing their T&D capacity and set up transmission infrastructure, they are embracing new technologies. This means adopting younger, smarter infrastructure that is more conducive to load balancing from the grid. In addition, government programmes that focus on renewables, energy efficient building infrastructure and smart city projects will enable them to drive the rapid growth of electrification of transportation.

Interestingly, countries like India are adopting a bottom-up mass model approach for e-mobility with e-rickshaws and e-buses. ABB India recently installed an EV fast-charging station at the NITI Aayog office in Delhi. Another example is in Jabalpur, where our solar inverters are enabling solar charging stations for e-rickshaws at four locations. ABB will strive to continue playing a vital role in the development of sustainable mobility, providing innovative and efficient technologies for EV charging infrastructure, rail and metro.

President, Power Grids Division, ABB India Limited