Exclusive interview with Alexander Schönfeldt, Director Sales & Marketing, Locamation – a gold sponsor at Transmission & Distribution/Smart Grids Europe.
What is on the calendar for the next year for Locamation?
Locamation sees a continuous move forward of the market and industry to understand the real requirements for smart grid solutions. By getting more educated, customers will more and more ask for a real smart way to automate not only equipment but also processes and traditional procedures.
Locamation has already started to transform its SASensor solution to become an open platform for grid companies to easily build and operate their business scenarios of the future smart grid from high to low voltage grid at substation level. In 2013 Locamation expects the grid companies to leave the conventional path of high cost, hardware and copper-based non-sustainable substation upgrade and to invest more in new ICT-based secondary equipment.
What current projects are you most excited about?
The Low Carbon Network Fund projects in the UK are entering a level now in which first time new developments and smartness gets tested. The projects we are involved in will demonstrate the advantage of our new technology and architectural approach.
Additionally we are excited that besides traditional net tariff based cost coverage thinking of a TSO or DNO, our customers are themselves investing in new innovations and buy or consider our solutions within their pilot projects.
What are your most proud of in terms of Locamation’s recent achievements?
We have two elements. On one side we care very much about our existing customers like Alliander or National Grid and work as a daily basis as partners. We listen carefully and we are achieving a high customer satisfaction. On the other side with new customers and potential clients we are proud that we always gain a lot positive feedback about the architecture and concept of our solution. Specifically the innovators and young power engineers who are much more familiar with information and communication technology love our way of thinking and the way we want to make the smart grids really smart.
What makes Locamation successful?
Our customers are making Locamation successful. We are very grateful that our customers trust in our solutions and that we were able to listen to their requirements in a way that we were able to jointly develop our SASensor platform. This also means that we will continuously listen and co-develop new functionality with our customers as well as platforms which are needed to meet future requirements.
What do you see as the main challenges currently in the industry?
There are several but let’s concentrate on the main ones. Firstly we should not forget that smart grid is more than a technology improvement or a smart meter. Smart grid in its final conclusion is a paradigm shift and only the fit ones will manage this transition which impacts technology, people, processes and business models.
Secondly transmission and distribution companies decide if they control or get controlled. The former stable and safe monopolistic situation may be similar in the future but only on paper. There will be so many external drivers and stakeholders that a customer service orientation and culture of a TSO or DSO is absolutely required.
Thirdly and finally the energy politics are asked to synchronize their country specific approaches into a European view on all levels – industry standards, investment models, bonus-malus systems or the regulatory models. It is not understandable why energy customers should pay cost of non-conformance and gaps created by non performing politics as part of their bill.
What is your vision for the industry?
The electricity grid will become the most powerful network of societies and industrial life. Being their blood and nerve system at the same time, automation and self healing mechanisms have been put in place to enable society to use electricity at any point at any time and at any level of demand.
A non regulated market is in place in which distribution network operators and suppliers of grid operation intelligence are able to collaboratively create a sustainable intelligent and automated grid. Information and communication technology in the secondary equipment will create the optimal benefits of operating and maintaining a power network. The business model of a distribution company may change to a flat fee plus on-demand services based pricing.
What surprises you about the industry?
We are in the industry long enough to not be surprised so often. So looking into the future I would not be surprised if all of a sudden a company which is not yet in the utilities industry enters as a game changer, as happened several years ago with Google changing the geographical information system (GIS) market. The likelihood that this happens is higher if the OT and the IT world do not learn from each other and are building a new smart operation system of medium and low voltage networks.
What will be your message at Transmission & Distribution/Smart Grids Europe this year?
Be and remain curious, learn new things every day, make the changes and do not wait.