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Digitalisation and green technologies are driving the switchgear demand in smart cities

January 27, 2023 6:16 pm

Digitalisation and green technologies are driving the switchgear demand in smart cities

The Indian switchgear market is projected to grow with the increasing urbanisation, modernisation, and population. Moreover, the transformations associated with smart cities are further fuelling the demand for advanced and automated switchgear.
Moreover, advanced switchgear is expected to dominate the market in terms of volume and revenue generation in the country, owing to being more reliable, environment-friendly, and flexible. The following article is a brief discussion on switchgear trends, especially towards gas-insulated switchgear and replacements to SF6 by introducing advanced and eco-friendly switchgear to match the clean energy and smart cities requirements.
Market demand and trends
According to research, the Indian switchgear market will expand at a CAGR of 7% by 2027. The rapid development in the power distribution sector, mainly to the increased adoption of smart grids and smart metres, is the primary driver driving the growth of the Indian switchgear market. The Indian government’s infrastructure development programmes, such as Smart Cities, Make in India, Digital India, and the Integrated Power Development Scheme, have made substantial contributions to the switchgear industry. According to Yogesh Verma, Business Unit Head-Switchgear & Water Heater at Panasonic Life Solutions India, “the necessity for smart appliances to ensure the system’s long-term viability has raised the demand for safe and energy-efficient switchgear.” A strong economy will push the market even further this year.
“What we currently refer to as “electrical switchgear” is the suitable and appropriate technology to maintain and monitor our electrical networks with the least amount of downtime and the quickest and most reliable protections,” says Ripunjay Parikh, Director of Sales – Power Distribution, Eaton India. Utilities are transitioning from overhead lines to underground cable networks and developing a ring-based power source for customers. This guarantees that electricity is available even in extreme situations.
The performance of the switchgear has a significant impact on the dependability of the power supply. According to Saurabh Goel, Executive President, Havells, “industry and urbanisation are growing and require a steady supply of electricity. As a result of the requirement for power generation, switchgear is highly sought.”
Switchgears_EPR Magazine
Innovations in switchgear 
India’s energy requirements have grown dramatically as economic activity has restarted following COVID. According to a Power Ministry release, India’s peak power consumption in 2022 would set a new record of 210,793 MW. “There is a greater need for safe and dependable electricity with the increasing demand for continuous power. The internet’s penetration in the electricity sector via IoT and cloud-based technology has enhanced utilities’ operational efficiency. The digitalisation of switchgear with modern software safeguards systems from potential cyber-attacks and improves power system efficiency, “Yogesh claims. Furthermore, real-time monitoring data provides vital information for identifying faults and reducing downtime while giving proactive operational advantages.
India is rapidly transitioning to renewable energy. India’s announcement that it wants to reach net zero emissions by 2070 and meet 50% of its power demand with renewable sources by 2030 is a significant milestone in the global fight against climate change. According to Goel, this project “indicates that the transformation in the switchgear sector, as well as the growing utilisation of IoT-enabled smart switchgear, will fulfil the criteria of better energy efficiency and balanced power distribution.” “Innovations and modern technologies make it easier to promote sustainability.”
Maintaining quality consistency in switchgear. 
Numerous initiatives are being made to improve the quality of circuit protection switchgear through positive feedback systems from end users and channel partners. “At Panasonic, we continually prioritise customer convenience and staff safety while producing and developing new products,” Verma says. Panasonic’s quality standards are also examined and modified regularly to guarantee that goods are free of flaws. To lessen the load of hazardous compounds, most items are RoHS-compliant. The majority of IS standards have been changed by IEC recommendations, significantly improving the product’s functioning by worldwide standards. We passionately believe in zero defects, and our approach to the 6-Sigma quality level has resulted in year-on-year higher growth while reducing market quality losses.
“Havells India has always been a thought leader in espousing the cause of Electrical Safety, and we have taken various steps to reinforce the need for the same. Havells is a pioneer in understanding the changing customer requirement and filling the vacuum with well-thought-through advanced products”, highlights Goel. A relatively new step in ensuring safety involves assessing how likely the system is to have a catastrophic fault; innovative indigenous protection devices have been designed that can be installed to detect the arc and disconnect the relevant supply immediately, protecting equipment and personnel.
Parikh uses this occasion to talk about the evolution of MV switchgear. “A crucial advancement for medium-voltage switchgear utilised in the distribution system is the necessity for SF6-free technology,” he explains. While SF6 is a proven insulating medium, it can inflict severe environmental harm if discharged into the atmosphere.” With increasing environmental consciousness, there is a desire for sustainable switchgear that might remove the usage of dangerous SF6 gas. SF6 is now well recognised as providing a considerable risk to human health and the environment due to probable operating conditions (high heat), leakage, and improper equipment disposal at the end of its life cycle.
Innovative indigenous protection devices have been developed that may be deployed to detect the arc and promptly disconnect the necessary supply, safeguarding equipment and workers. “We have created downstream protection devices to prevent leakage current (RCCB), under and over voltage (UVT / OVT) Aux, and voltage surge (SPD), representing our customer-first approach”, Goel stresses. These devices ensure that the user receives critical circuit protection at the socket level.

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Safety and performance efficiency in switchgear
The new generation of switchgear comes with intelligent protection relays and communication devices that can offer advanced diagnostics and alarms that can provide warnings in abnormal conditions. Other practices include maintaining a dust-free, clean environment in the substation areas and training by OEMs for the operators on efficient management of the switchgear. Here, Parikh explains that bad quality influences overall power quality and can create harmonics in the system, resulting in power losses and changes in system voltages. “As a result, the industry requires a high-quality, consistent power source to operate.” Parikh also emphasises the significance of methodically preserving electricity quality in networks and substations.
When discussing the maintenance operations necessary to maintain the performance of switchgear in an electrical unit or power system, Goel highlights a few essential items to avoid any problems occurring in the circuit, which include:

  • A comprehensive inspection of the systems to discover physical problems, cracked insulation, broken leads, tightness of connections, improper wiring, and the overall general condition. In addition, we must regularly monitor the RCCB’s functionality using a test button. And if the RCCB fails, we must replace it right now.
  • Annual circuit breaker testing Manually activating circuit breakers once a year is a simple but critical practice. This keeps the contacts clean and the functioning mechanisms free to move.
  • Regularly, switchgear should be cleaned, examined, tightened, greased, and exercised. Operational circumstances determine maintenance frequency. Moisture and heat, combined with dirt, dust, or other environmental pollutants, will hasten the deterioration of the equipment’s insulation, conductive materials, and protective devices.

The worldwide switchgear market is expected to perform well in the coming years, with demand likely driven by medium- and high-voltage switchgear. Revenues in the switchgear industry are directly linked to demand for transformers; hence, any increase in demand for transformers would lead to a rise in demand for switchgear and vice versa. As a result, demand for switchgear will almost certainly increase in the future years.
Among the many good features of switchgear expansion, India is positioned to become a manufacturer of dependable new-age circuit breakers. With the development and production of application-based circuit breakers, research-driven organisations have made significant inroads into the worldwide market. The trend motivates India to usher in a new age of progress.
Yogesh Verma, Business Unit Head-Switchgear & Water Heater at Panasonic Life Solutions India
The need for smart appliances has increased the demand for safe and energy-efficient switchgear.
Ripunjay Parikh, Director of Sales – Power Distribution, Eaton India
Utilities are shifting from overhead lines to underground cable networks to build a ring-based power supply for customers.
Saurabh Goel, Executive President, Havells
The use of IoT-enabled smart switchgear meets the criteria for more energy-efficient power distribution.

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