The final day of the annual CEPSI conference at KLCC saw the meetings of minds in the Power Supply Industry to explore and discuss innovations and smart solutions, green development and transformation.
Starting the moderated panel presentations, Zubin Postwalla, Marketing Leader China, East Asia Pacific, Grid Solutions from GE Power, enlightened the audience that the most recent transformations in power have unintended consequences. “Grid innovations are needed to mitigate this,” said Zubin adding, “The industry is now entering the distributed solid state phase with solar panels on roofs seeing dramatic growth. Global consumers are moving towards self-sufficiency and this is disrupting the market.” Offering solutions, Zubin said, “The smart solution to this is to integrate digital, grid and power generation as a system of systems. Regulation and policy is needed to make this happen.”
Yang Kun, Executive President of the China Electricity Council (CEC), outlined what the Chinese Belt and Road initiative meant for the power sector. “The strategic objectives are to achieve electrification and sustainable development using the latest technology for Ultra High Voltage smart grids to achieve uniform standards across countries,” explained Yan. The China power grid is connected to Russia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos and Mongolia and also encompasses power production capacity cooperation. “We use idea innovation for clean coal technology and green development,” he added.
Bringing the consulting mindset to the table, James Chong, MD of Accenture Digital (ASEAN) introduced ‘compressive disruption’. “Gradual changes over time through digitisation have caused revenues to decline leading to lower margins,” said James explaining, “This forces utility companies to become more efficient.” Strategic priorities now include shaping new revenues by looking at new operating models including retail, IT/OT integration and reimagining digital workers.
History provides us with lessons
“History provides us with lessons,” says Kamal Balout, Global Vice President of Energy Segment, Nokia. Making his point by storytelling, Kamal explained that the power sector has to evolve in the same way the telecommunications industry did – from traditional landlines to seamless cloud-connected smartphone experiences.
Offering a telco perspective, he proposed three new business models that are emerging, all of which are rooted in ensuring business relevancy and winning customers. “In the mind of every CEO right now is, ‘how can I keep the wire business and get a slightly better margin?’ and on the other hand ‘how do I generate new revenue’”, said Kamal.
Gavin Barfield, Chief Technology Advisor of MERALCO, summarised the new digital disruptors in the power supply industry globally. “Blockchain enables consumers to be their own retailers,” explains Gavin citing, “In Africa, Sun Exchange enables anyone to buy solar cells and lease them to schools and business in the sunniest places on earth.”
Gavin continued, “Artificial Intelligence (AI) is useful for renewables forecasting and demand management. Google uses AI to run its data centres’ cooling saving 30 percent on energy used. Smart metering and edge computing will be used for autonomous cars and smart cities.”
Saravanan Selvaraj, General Manager of CG Power & Industrial Solutions said, “The energy trilemma – affordability, sustainability and availability, is defining the future,” He suggested attaining ISO 14001 certification and running conservation awareness training for staff adds value to a company. Highlighting ongoing concerns about global warming, Saravanan issued a rallying call that everyone in the industry must play their part.
“The energy trilemma – affordability, sustainability and availability, is defining the future”
Concluding the day’s session, Dato’ Abdul Razak bin Abdul Majid, Chairman of the Energy Council of Malaysia, described the ‘Evolution in a Revolution’ that is happening in the power supply industry.
Key aspects of reforms Malaysia has seen include the unbundling of TNB’s various divisions that led to a tariff reform. “This evolution requires action,” said Dato’ Razak adding, “It will be an aspiration driven transformation. Our goals are further reforms of markets and tariffs and empowering the consumer to be sustainable.”
Wrapping up the third and final day of the conference, the future state of the power supply industry is proving to be revolutionary, if not, radical. Players will need to look forward and think of ways to disrupt, or be disrupted.