Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2023 by Henrik Jensen
The column is written by Henrik Jensen, SVP Kamstrup Electricity
Our power supply is facing a changing world which demands an increased focus on collaboration and preparedness. It has become more complex to ensure stability in the supply and the related data security as software solutions become an integral part of the operation of the electric grid. Technology suppliers now have an increased responsibility to stand united with the customers. Today and in the future.
A changed World
Especially two things suddenly interfere with our everyday lives and have become defining for our work: War and green transition. Both factors affect, by their very nature, our society and the way companies make decisions, locally and globally. At the same time, they offer new perspectives on the way we develop our business.
The speed at which we carry out a necessary digital transition makes demands of technology as well as for the obtainment of the necessary capabilities to effectively use the new technology. Not least of those of us who operate the infrastructure which appears to have become even more critical – the power supply. In Kamstrup, we see that now is the time for suppliers to break with traditional thinking by stepping even closer into collaborations and discussions with electric companies to create the necessary framework for the secure operation of the electrical grid going forward.
Proximity yields results
This year we turned a sharp corner as we have now been a player in the electricity industry for 25 years. In 2021, we celebrated 75 years as a company and as a part of the proud Danish tradition of forward-looking Danish industrial companies with great innovative aspirations. In 2023, we will continue to invest heavily in the technology of tomorrow. Last year, our investment was 13% of our turnover.
We do it because our ownership structure allows us to think long-term and because we believe our partners increasingly will need a Kamstrup which can bring them safely into the future.
Despite the curiosity about the future, the most important experience from my everyday work remains, however, the one we take away with us from the projects and the dialogue with the customers. Here we learn that DSO’s make the most progress with the green transition if we take collective responsibility through close partnerships. It is about understanding what we need to solve together and in which order. What are the electric companies’ strategic focus and core tasks today and in the future.
To create the foundation for the electrical grid of the future - an electrical grid into which we have full insight and which efficiently utilises the available capacity - will demand a focus on the following:
- Quality of products, data retrieval, and data
- Insight into and prioritisation of challenges
- Conversion of insights into actions
It requires qualifications and resources to transform insights into actions to ensure future power supply in relation to the challenges caused by the green transition. A good example of this is the reliable and successful operation of remote reading systems in many places in Denmark. Nevertheless, I notice that going forward, we, as suppliers, need to take on an even greater responsibility to succeed in all essential parameters.
In the working relationship with customers, we have seen, for instance, how software solutions and services provide increased consensus and transparency, which are part of remedying the challenges of the green transition. The detailed insight into the electrical grid from action-based services can establish the foundation for stability, prioritisation of maintenance, network rollout, and efficiency.
We know that prioritisation and efficiency will be crucial in the coming years. This is emphasised by Green Power Denmark’s statement on 15 March with 11 specific recommendations for the electrical grid of the future and a clear call for political negotiations on the subject. In the statement, it is estimated that electrification demands investments consisting of many more cables, transformer stations, and not least digitalisation for up to DKK 57 billion (EUR 7.6 billion) towards 2030.
The essential point which must necessarily follow is that we need to ensure the energy efficiency of the existing electrical grid. Optimisation of the flexible electricity consumption through data insights and, in general, maximum utilisation of the available data for more intelligent electricity consumption will make it possible to limit the project’s expenses.
Personally, I believe that the way to optimal collaboration around our electrical grid will be through insistent proximity and qualified capabilities. Continuity and long-lasting partnerships are essential – to make everyday life in a changeable and uncertain world safe for our customers and develop solutions with the customers that correspond to today’s challenges. However, it starts with us digging into the challenges of everyday life with our customers and with increased attention to the honest and close dialogue, so we make sure we understand the energy systems’ challenges which need to be addressed thoroughly and hereafter delve into the technological and innovative solutions that are required to solve these challenges.
Local or global?
We are looking into a period of years which offers increased polarisation in the World. Companies need to consider their position as a global player – for instance, where production or the support centre is located. As a local player, you should consider how you provide security and proximity in the collaboration and live up to the demands made locally to ensure supply.
Hence, suppliers and companies that operate in the international market should consider which level of control they have over their business. Legislation and political circumstances can potentially have a significant impact on the company’s deliveries. Companies with business or production in Russia have felt the gravity of the geopolitical challenges during the last year.
If we zoom in on the local collaboration with the power supply, geopolitics also play a part. Our attention to data handling and information security has never been greater. Once more, suppliers should emphasise the close and secure partnership by bringing security experts closer to the process and the customer’s value chain. Current and future legislation on cyber security needs to be complied with through relevant certifications, the best possible encryption, and a solid security infrastructure in digital communication solutions. This is a necessary foundation. However, data security means much more. People and processes play a large part which should never be underestimated. Security experts need to take a more prominent role in the project planning and the day-to-day operation – they need to be closely involved in the collaboration with the electric company. Proximity in the collaboration around the power grid is crucial. Especially now when the threat against critical infrastructure appears greater than ever.
Get close to your partner
In the coming years, our power supply needs to be invested in as it needs to be digitalised, protected, and adapted further to sustainable energy. That investment is expensive, and when we as society foot the growing bill, we must remember to make demands for increased quality. We want to have the world’s best supply and operation of the electrical grid. As suppliers, we face a huge task. We must become closer partners in and around the power supply than ever before. Even large companies which operate globally should consider how they ensure a significant local presence. It is time for proximity. Now we must move closer to accelerating the development in a collaboration which needs to ensure our shared critical energy infrastructure for a green and reliable future.