India has remarkable frameworks to support renewable power

  • Articles
  • Apr 28,23
In this interview with Rakesh Rao at Hannover Messe 2023, Chris Dartnell, SVP Power Systems Business, Schneider Electric, elaborates on how the company is helping industries in their transition towards net-zero operation.
India has remarkable frameworks to support renewable power

Schneider Electric, which specialises in digital automation and energy management, provides solutions to sectors like homes & buildings, data centers, infrastructure and industries, etc by combining energy technologies, real-time automation, software, and services. In this interview with Rakesh Rao at Hannover Messe 2023, Chris Dartnell, SVP Power Systems Business, Schneider Electric, elaborates on how the company is helping industries in their transition towards net-zero operation. 

Can you brief us about the business unit that you handle at Schneider?

Our Power Systems vertical is the medium voltage electrical business, which is involved in safely electrifying the electro-intensive assets in the world. We provide our services to petrochemical plants, distribution grids, airports, hospitals, data centres, and industries that are expanding rapidly, like semiconductor. 

We help people who have high electrification needs by bring electrical switch gear in a project or equipment mode and linking that digitally to monitor and manage the whole system.

How does the global movement towards renewable energy benefit Schneider Electric?

The world has got significant challenge to drive sustainability and electrification is a big piece of that story. Let's think about it from two sides - supply and demand. Energy production has to be done via sustainable route and the big piece of that is renewable generation. For instance, India is doing a fantastic job of setting up frameworks to support renewable power. We contribute to the electrification process by delivering digital transformers to the industry and assisting nations in becoming less dependent on heavy coal-fired power plants. This aids in decarbonising the Indian economy's supply side.

How do you decarbonise demand is the second part. You must deal with it at multiple level, for examples: the converting petrochemical operations to net-zero; shifting to electric vehicles, etc. 

At present, functioning of electric grids is undergoing a drastic shift. Grids have historically been quite conventionally fed by state-owned electricity plants to domestic or industrial users. The grids become increasingly volatile and variable when we add renewable energy sources. Because there are several sources of generation today, grids must be more flexible and digitised to function. Residential buildings have solar panels, which produce electricity throughout the day. They occasionally sell a few tens of Watts back to the grid, but they buy electricity from the grid during night (which solar energy is not available). Thus, trading on the grids becomes two-way. Managing grids is a highly intriguing topic that we are working on.

Electrification is growing in transportation sector like railways, vehicles, etc. How is Schneider Electric seizing this opportunity?

Battery is going to be a major piece of global economy because it’s the engine of electrical growth. We are focusing on helping the production of large battery plants. We are doing huge business in Asia and Europe by supporting battery manufacturing plants. The European market is expanding remarkably with the electricity demand growing very fast. We help manufacturers to electrify their plant and also automate production & give them an alternative to manufacture batteries in a more sustainable and reliable way. 

Besides, we help in electrifying charging stations for electric vehicles (EVs) for consumers (like homes & buildings) and building charging infrastructure. EV charging business is becoming a big market for us because charging has to be safe, measured, always available, etc. We offer also provide digital solutions for EV charging projects to ensure efficient functioning and avoid losses for the user. 

We have been serving electrified railways for quite some time by managing the electricity infrastructure for railways. In India, we also contribute greatly to the growth metro network. 

What kind of opportunities are you looking from the Indian market?

The opportunity in the Indian market may be the greatest in the entire world. Schneider Electric has been growing aggressively in India and, as part of this strategy, we had acquired electrical and automation business of Larsen & Toubro (L&T) couple of years back. We have vastly expanded our footprint in India looking at the growth potential that the country offers in many industries like energy, automotive, railways (metros), renewables, etc. We see big opportunity for us in transportation and heavy industries as we help them in their transition process towards net-zero operation.  


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