Technology Record - Issue 31: Winter 2023

115 energy resiliency, lower costs and a smaller carbon footprint. For instance, a microgrid created for a factory in Spain by Schneider Electric features 852 kilowatts peak of photovoltaic energy, five EV charging points and 80 kilowatt hours of battery storage, all controllable by overarching software. At maximum output, the grid’s photovoltaic energy could power the lighting of a small room for over six and a half years, with the battery storing enough energy to power 80 laptops, all day, for 80 days in a row. Elsewhere, Mulino Marino, an Italian flour mill, began taking steps to digitalise its production over a decade ago. Today, it uses a range of modern data and process management solutions to revolutionise production processes from loading to bagging. This has resulted in comprehensive visibility of the mill’s energy consumption for greater efficiency. Decarbonising the transport sector will require infrastructure change The third area of action is in the transport sector. As the world’s population continues to grow and urbanisation continues, an EV revolution involving the mass adoption of electrified personal and public transportation is critical. We need to massively expand EV charging infrastructure around the globe and equip it with digital capabilities. Microgrids will need to play a part in this by offsetting some of the pressure that additional electricity demand from EVs will have on grids, and by bringing energy autonomy in remote areas, or in places where grids are vulnerable to disruption from natural disasters. For example, when extreme weather disrupted power for several days at the Brookville Smart Energy Bus Depot in Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, civic leaders installed a 6.5-megawatt microgrid with on-site solar battery energy storage, and natural gas generation. Local buses can now continue to operate in the event of a main grid outage. It also advanced the county’s goal of reducing carbon emissions. The technologies exist today, let’s use them! A world in which everyone drives an ultraefficient electric car, lives in an efficient, smart building, and where once-polluting industries are anything but, might seem like something that’s far off in the future. But the tools and partnerships to enable this are already available. If we start using them at greater scale and speed, we can address the global climate and energy crisis now in a real, tangible way. Olivier Blum is executive vice president of energy management at Schneider Electric INDUSTRIALS & MANUFACTURING The electric buses at the Brookville Smart Energy Bus Depot can continue running even if there is a major grid outage Photo: Schneider Electric