Eskom’s severe shortfall in generation capacity in 2022 and the resultant load-shedding, coupled with the shared goal of accelerating a carbon-neutral future, while electricity is the backbone of the entire energy system, has led to a critical need for fast tracked solutions and new technologies, business models, ways of thinking and ways of working.

Hitachi Energy is a pioneering technology leader that collaborates to ensure a sustainable energy future for all (002) Image credit: Hitachi Energy

Hitachi Energy is a pioneering technology leader that collaborates to ensure a sustainable energy future for all (002) Image credit: Hitachi Energy

Hitachi Energy’s industry-leading experience, deep domain knowledge and pioneering technologies continue to support its stakeholders to accelerate the global energy transition.

Global Solutions

The company has a global reputation for innovation, in line with its Sustainability 2030 business strategy based on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Targets include becoming carbon-neutral in its own operations by 2030. As a first step, the business has plans to move to 100% fossil-free electricity. It has also announced a target to halve CO2 emissions along the value chain by 2030 and is working closely with suppliers and multi-stakeholders to achieve this.

An example of such a global partnership is the work that Hitachi Energy is carrying out for Empresa de Electricidade da Madeira (EEM), a publicly owned utility responsible for the production, transportation, distribution, and commercialisation of energy on the Madeira Islands of Madeira and Porto Santo. The small island system is a testbed in terms of learning how to integrate renewable resources with energy storage and electric vehicles, for example, explains Hennie Nel, Industry Solution Executive at the company. The addition of Hitachi Energy’s PowerStore Battery Energy Storage (BESS) enables increased adoption of renewable energy while stabilising the system and reducing voltage fluctuation.

To effectively manage the large penetration of renewables required to make Porto Santo fossil fuel-free, EEM uses Network Manager, an integrated network operations platform that includes advanced distribution management system (ADMS) capabilities to extend grid control and optimisation. Network Manager provides the functionality for the safe and efficient operation of sub-transmission, medium- and low-voltage distribution networks on the islands. This means EEM can efficiently manage its distribution assets, as well as adequately prepare for the changing world of distribution, improving reliability and reducing the impacts of outages.

Local Solutions

Some time back, the company also commissioned microgrids in Longmeadow, Johannesburg and on Robben Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Systems that are grid-connected and need to meet grid code requirements or are over 1MW in size can become quite complex. A range of solutions are available to address these types of applications, from the distribution substation all the way to the battery, says Randall September, business development manager: Microgrids, Grid Automation and Battery Energy Storage Systems.

Asset Performance Management (APM) is key, especially as load-shedding represents abnormal operation of a power grid on a local level. Load-shedding introduces more potential risk of equipment failure because it is difficult to continuously monitor the health of assets and ensure that potential failures can be predicted, and maintenance reprioritised accordingly. “It is key to not only provide a more effective maintenance management environment but also to improve the productivity of the technical teams carrying out the work, and Hitachi’s Lumada APM enables this,” says Francois Le Roux, Business Development Executive at Enterprise Software at the company.

Power system control is also critical to manage load-shedding. “This is a major component, because at the end of the day the reliability of power supply and making best use of available power sources will be achieved by means of the layer of software control,” says Stuart Michie, Head of Sales and Marketing for Southern Africa. The company’s BESS solutions are ideal to manage all the different elements of a distributed power generation system that combines solar, wind, batteries, other generation sources and the grid, for example. Microgrid control and automation architecture is important to optimise such a system.

For example, the company’s e-mesh digital ecosystem provides software management for distributed generation at both a local and fleet level, with built-in maintenance management for performance prediction at both a local and fleet level. “If we talk about solutions to load-shedding, these are all elements that need to be incorporated in a wider power system to refine its optimal management,” says Michie.

“It is crucial that we take on the challenge of accelerating the pace of change,” concludes Malvin Naicker, Managing Director, Hitachi Energy Sub-Saharan Africa.