Richard Dick, Executive Group Chairman and CEO, Lucy Group
Tell us more about Lucy Electrics' product portfolio in India?
Lucy Electric in India has been very active for years. It started in mid-nineties, and at present, we have two manufacturing units in India, one in Vadodara which supports the rest of our business and sub assemblies and key components. Our manufacturing unit in Nashik focuses on supplying finished products to the Indian market. That is a broad range of products from 11kV to 33 kV RTU's, overheads and solutions to meet the needs of developing smart grid and smart cities initiatives in India.
We are already working on some smart city initiatives supplying our products related to the initiatives. What we are seeing in India is an increasing number of overhead lines being replaced by underground cable. This is driven by a need to grid to reliability of supply, eliminating some of the non-technical losses which happen in the network, to give reliability of supply to the network providers.
The other thing is most of our products are for underground networks and it is encouraging to see that there is more undergrounding cabling taking place in
India for reliable power. By this, India will not only solve the AT&C losses but eliminate theft too. It's a good trend.
How do you find smart grid and smart cities in terms of opportunities?
I think the whole point is to make the network more accessible, more reliable and more intelligent, so that it can cope with different types of challenges faced by utilities not only in India but across the world.
For example - UK is applying 3Ds-decarbonisation, decentralisation, digitisation in the country. So, our ultimate aim is to provide solutions adhering to 3Ds formulated by the UK government.
So smart, as rightly said, is used in all sorts of connotations. But, really it means having more intelligent networks that can cope with the supply and demand challenges that all network providers are now facing. Electric vehicles (EVs) can bring challenges in terms of supply and demand requirements. So, you can just imagine, if suddenly there is an influx of EVs on streets, the amount of pressure is likely to escalate on the utilities considering charging infrastructure.
Our job effectively is to provide solutions to those requirements. We have products and solutions which can solve the issues with an engineered solution to overcome it. So you cannot necessarily call it end-to-end product, it is more of an engineering solution.
When it comes to energy management, where do you see the role of Lucy Electrics in providing its solutions to India in cutting down transmission losses?
As we speak, the transmission losses are tremendous in India. Here, we can provide data and information to the utilities, to the network providers, so that they can take the corrective measures to avoid transmission losses. However, to be honest, alone we cannot address this challenge, but we can provide utilities with alternative solutions, where we can use technology to better interpret the data and information for betterment of the utilities.
At Elecrama, we displayed our key grid solution which is a low-voltage monitoring devise just to monitor the losses. We can attach a grid key device to an existing
low-voltage network system and then interrogate and receive actionable information to be able to take recommended action and determine whether the losses are due to faulty equipment of theft. This solution can be implemented in medium-voltage network too.
We also have a whole range of remote units which have different features and benefits depending on the challenge. We see ourselves as enablers to work closely with the engineers within utilities.
What are your views on India's EV dream?
I think the infrastructure for electric vehicles is not just an Indian problem, but it's a worldwide phenomenon. It's one of the core issues that the world is facing now, including UK. In the UK, EV growth is increasing and there is already some evidence of problems and that is probably going to be repeated in India depending on how rapidly the growth of EVs takes place.
Ironically, Jaguar just introduced electric vehicle in UK that requires 50 kW charging point as indeed a Tesla range. These sorts of input requirements at any scale will stretch the electric network considerably. And I do not think how people are going to respond.
Certainly, I think in UK there is no policy to do so. What are we doing to address it? One of the devices we have shown here measures what is happening in low voltage networks which is where most of the cities connections are going to be made and by seeing and securing it will give utilities a chance to react to the cities networks and then make alternative arrangements.
How your company can bridge the gap India is facing now in terms of EV infrastructure?
Our job is to be able to measure those flows and monitor them and then hopefully think to be able to provide equipments to reinforce those networks. A game is going to be played and it is going to be fascinating how it works out in most markets in coming few years.
In UK, we are working with Western Power who is one of the large Distribution Network Operators (DNO).
We are working with them on a project called Electric Nation and this is an initiative to actually examine exactly what you are asking and what is the impact on the existing network with arrival of EVs. It is a national study.
We are partnering with companies to actually work with Western Power to anticipate these demands on the network in future. This is a very important initiative. We have another project with one of the DNOs called Open LV. This is another initiative again to try to determine the impact of the additional supply coming into the network from solar rooftop, wind etc., and anticipating how communities make better use of the available energies so you can actually have a situation where you start to pool energy and consumer use and contribute as required.
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