Industry Analysis

Switching gears for smart distribution

Given the critical role of smart switchgears in efficient power distribution, the demand for smart switchgears is expected to grow considerably in the near future

The power sector in India has been progressing at a healthy pace supported by a variety of policy initiatives by the government. This has translated into a rising demand for robust power system equipment such as switchgear in the country. Switchgear is a combination of components such as switches, fuses, and circuit breakers that are used to control, protect and isolate an electrical equipment to facilitate continuous and reliable supply of electricity. The use of switchgear helps in protecting against circumstances of overload, short circuit, insulation failure etc.

With the advent of smart grids, substation automation is expected to expand considerably, providing increased control of relays, capacitor banks, voltage regulators and feeders. Given their essential role in substation automation, the scale of switchgear is also likely to grow significantly in the near future. Given the government’s reform initiatives, the switchgear market is expected to continue on its growth trajectory. The expansion of key industries and infrastructure sectors like telecom, railways, airports and ports, and the increases prominence on the development of smart grids and grid automation are expected to support the switchgear market.

Role of smart switchgears for smart distribution
Syed Sajjadh Ali, Managing Director – India, Electrical Sector, Eaton says, “While the primary function of a power distribution system is to offer stable and reliable power to the users, it has become increasingly critical to have smart distributions systems that can function uninterrupted and provide vital information to users about power consumption and power quality. In addition, the system may have power feeds from multiple sources including grid, diesel gensets, renewables etc. A smart distribution system will ensure that the management of these different power sources is done intelligently, so that distribution is efficient and reliable.”

It becomes crucial that switchgears are also advanced and smart enough to operate in sync with a smart power management system. Switchgears need to respond with the same level of efficiency to make the entire system deliver the desired outcome.

The company has always been at the forefront of innovation when it comes to power management technologies. We are focused on making power efficient, safe, reliable and sustainable and our advanced range of switchgear products does just that. Our smart switchgears and components provide users with necessary information that helps them avoid accidents make the system safe and also deliver intelligence for preventive maintenance, adds Ali.

There are many such features which are inbuilt into the switchgears which make them smart, and thus making the distribution system itself truly smart. Without smart switchgears, smart distribution systems may end up becoming only a smart metering system, he further adds.

Gautam Seth, Joint Managing Director, HPL Electric & Power Ltd says, “Switchgear is defined as an assembly of switching and interrupting devices, providing control, metering, protection, and current regulating applications. Smart switchgear is pre-programmed switchgear supporting remote monitoring, configuration and control of embedded intelligent devices through two way real-time communication. It allows monitoring of incoming and outgoing power, automatic transfer of power during peak load and automatic opening and closing to maintain power load. Smart switchgear enables better monitoring, control and communication, allowing energy saving and better management.”

Smart switchgears are the latest genre of switchgears which are transforming the electrical systems and management. Buildings (commercial, residential and industrial) consume a lot of energy and world over initiatives are being taken to save energy and reduce the negative impact on the environment. In such a scenario, smart switchgears come in action by measuring, connecting and saving to help manage energy and bring energy bills down significantly, examines Seth.

Also, with the 100 smart cities initiative announced by the government, the demand for smart switchgears is expected to rise further. These cities will be built with GIS-based (Geographic Information Systems) town planning, using advanced ICT technologies covering that will feature smart switchgears, he further adds.

The company is known for its technologically advanced and innovative products and taking this forward its recent launch in the smart switchgear category is AV ATS. The product is designed as per the latest design and manufacturing needs, meeting world class standards. HPL’ AV ATS is a simple strong and reliable mechanism to provide a safe changeover of sources, remotely. It has been developed keeping in mind the safety requirements of the new age customers who are more aware about safety measures, preferring branded and quality conscious electrical components to safeguard their systems and prevent threats posed by short circuits. All live parts are shrouded eliminating the possibilities of casualties & electric hazards. The insulation property of the material used is highly reliable, self-extinguishing with high thermal withstand properties and remains intact in even critical conditions. The AV ATS is compact in size and hence helps in saving space in the enclosures, panels etc. The handling is easy and simple. Its simplicity and ease in use allows the user for quick installation.

A V Jagdish, Vice President, Havells India Limited says, “The power generation capacity in India has grown at a rate of over 10 per cent in the past five years, while the transmission and distribution network has witnessed a moderate growth. This has translated into a growing demand for robust power system equipment such as switchgear in the country which helps in protecting against situations of overload, short circuit, insulation failure etc. Smart switchgears are embedded with sensors and smart systems which enable a safe, reliable and flexible distribution within a fully controlled system. Smart switchgears also allow grid optimisation and enhance reliability, efficiency and minimises both transmission as well as operational losses. Smart switchgears can also be pre-programmed and embedded with intelligent devices for monitoring and automatic load management for energy savings and easy maintenance.”

While the basic function of providing electrical distribution and fault protection remains, today smart switchgears are capable of measuring various parameters and transmitting the readings to energy management systems and building management systems on real time basis. The smart switch gears can in turn be monitored remotely and can even be made to execute assigned tasks from a control center located remotely. The growing adoption of smart grid technologies and the rise of power generation from renewable sources have already lead to substantial changes in how power is distributed, adds Jagdish.

Given the critical role of smart switchgears in efficient power distribution, the demand for switchgears is expected to grow considerably in the near future. And, with the government’s initiatives, the switchgear market is likely to continue on its growth trajectory, he further adds.

Sameer Saxena Director-Marketing Legrand India says, “Switchgears are an important component in the electrical systems. For smart distribution it is inevitable to have a smart switch which will optimise the performance. Switchgears are useful in protecting against situations of overload, short circuit, insulation failure etc. The design of the smart switchgears will ensure that they are able to detect abnormal or undesirable condition in the LV enclosures &distribution board and then trip the circuit to disconnect the affected area without affecting other undesired areas.”

Switchgears are now available in low, medium and high voltage level. According to the distribution requirement the different type of switchgears is used. The low voltage switchgears are generally catered to buildings, the power distribution system and industries. Medium voltage switchgear has ratings 1 kV to 75 kV. The high voltage switchgear has ratings above 75 kV and includes SF6 circuit breakers, gas-insulated switchgear, hybrid switchgear, lighting arresters and composite insulators, he adds.

As one of the global leader in electrical and digital building infrastructures, Legrand supplies user-friendly solutions designed to inform users of their consumption, enable them to control their installation, and thereby contribute to lowering overall energy demand and consumption in residential and commercial buildings. Smart Grid product offerings from Legrand are mainly designed to meet the overall challenge of energy consumption control, while also contributing specifically to enhanced management of the phenomena of daily or seasonal peaks. They inform building occupants about the status of their power consumption and/or production and facilitate action to adjust behaviour patterns accordingly. However, we currently do not have these solutions in India. We are waiting for the market to advance before we bring these products to the Indian shore, Saxena adds further.

A smart distribution system will ensure that the management of different power sources is done intelligently, so that distribution is efficient and reliable.
Syed Sajjadh Ali, Managing Director – India, Electrical Sector, Eaton

Smart switchgear enables better monitoring, control and communication, allowing energy saving and better management.
Gautam Seth, Joint Managing Director, HPL Electric & Power Ltd

Smart switchgears allow grid optimisation and enhance reliability, efficiency and minimises both transmission as well as operational losses.
A V Jagdish, Vice President, Havells India Limited

Switchgears are an important component in the electrical systems. For smart distribution, it is inevitable to have a smart switch which will optimise the performance.
Sameer Saxena, Director-Marketing, Legrand India

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