South Africa’s energy system, in alignment with global trends, is being transformed, becoming more decentralised, using more renewables and turning electricity consumers into producers and consumers of electricity, and this change creates challenges at the interface between the grid and consumers – which technology company Siemens refers to as the grid edge.
In the past, companies have mainly focused on the grid – the regulated side; however, the rising need for sustainability and new technologies is shifting focus to the other side – to buildings, customers as producers and consumers, and consumers.
Delivering the keynote during the symposium, Siemens Southern and Eastern Africa CEO Sabine Dall’Omo said the grid edge will encompass a variety of technology and services going forward, from electric vehicles to heat pumps, solar panels, home batteries and, importantly, smart meters to control a building and reduce its electric consumption.
To maximise the impact of grid edge technology, rollout and knowledge of these is needed.
Moreover, there is a need for the system to be ready to take energy from producers and feed that into the grid, with the technology to manage the grid with a variety of fluctuations, which is a change from the very static power supply it currently handles, Dall’Omo explained.
She pointed out that South Africa’s challenge is that of a much-needed energy transition, not just in terms of generation, but also of its energy systems. Therefore, the country needs an optimisation of its grid operations, which must be seen in the context of increasing complexity, she said.
She noted that the country’s grid was currently not ready to handle the high velocity of power and multidirectional flows from both private and public customers.
“The interlinking of existing smart technologies for grids, buildings and industrial automation, is creating a new dimension in the sustainable energy landscape; this is what we at Siemens call the ‘grid edge’.