As Africa faces emerging opportunities to help deliver efficient, affordable and reliable electricity to consumers, GE Power’s Grid Solutions business yesterday unveiled a whitepaper on the “Digitization of Energy Transmission & Distribution in Africa.”
The paper explores the opportunities and challenges faced in Sub-Saharan Africa as the new future of energy and electrification emerges. The paper also looks at the role of smart technology to transform grids as they continue to reflect the changes in the way energy is generated, distributed, traded, managed and stored.
Co-authored by the Strategic Marketing unit of GE Power in Sub-Saharan Africa and Energy & Environment Research Analysts of Frost & Sullivan, the white paper presents several challenges that affect energy access and power supply stability in Africa.
They include inadequate power generation but more significantly, low levels of electrification caused primarily by faulty, aged or wrong setup of transmission and distribution infrastructure.
With the digital transformation of the energy sector rapidly gaining traction on a global scale, new opportunities are emerging to help deliver efficient, affordable and reliable electricity to consumers. According to the whitepaper, smart grids can create the potential to combat SSA’s power sector challenges, and provide the opportunity for the region to develop its energy capabilities and, therefore its energy security as well as security of supply.
The digital transformation of grids allows users to take a holistic approach to achieve efficiency, flexibility, transparency and long-term sustainability.
Information Communication Technology Integration will support real-time or deferred bi-directional data transmission that will enable stakeholders to efficiently manage the grid through increased speed and volume of data output, providing utilities the opportunity to maximize cost reductions, increase power reliability and increase customer satisfaction
Wide Area Monitoring and Control ensures visibility into the power systems to observe the performance of grid components allowing for major cost-saving benefits associated with predictive maintenance and self-diagnosis.
Smart technology like Intelligent Electronic Devices (IEDs), Advanced metering infrastructure and grid automation ensure seamless transition and integration of renewable generation or micro-grids where necessary; predictive maintenance in distributed grids to reduce outages; and effective revenue management.
“Transmission and distribution networks are seen to be the weakest links in Africa’s power systems and hence represent a huge opportunity area for improvement,” said Lazarus Angbazo, CEO, GE’s Grid Solutions business, Sub Saharan Africa.
“Going forward, there is a need to move beyond simply maintaining and repairing aged infrastructure. To truly advance the power sector, a holistic approach needs to be adopted; one that ensures sustainability, reliability and longevity of power supply. By utilizing internet of things (IoT) technology, the smarter grids of tomorrow will deliver all-encompassing solutions based on the convergence of operating technology (OT) with information technology (IT) and incorporating emerging concepts such as distributed generation and energy storage,” he further added.
Smart grids will play a key role in the region’s transition to a sustainable energy system through facilitating smooth integration of new energy sources; promoting interoperability between all types of equipment; enabling the growth of distributed generation and its potential incorporation into the main grid; supporting demand-side management; and providing flexibility and visibility of the entire grid. GE’s grid solutions six-step process highlighted in the whitepaper will help utilities along the digitization journey of their energy infrastructure.