Exclusive interview with Sergey Bakulin, Energy Practice Program Manager at Luxoft, an exhibitor at the upcoming Metering, Billing/CRM Europe.

Sergey Bakulin

What is on the calendar for the coming year?
We are paying close attention to what happens in the world of T&D automation. Russia is an emerging market and every year the interest in this huge region with very special market rules and business culture grows. That’s probably the reason for the increasing number of industry events in Russia that are scheduled for next year.

In June 2013, the Ural region – one of the most technologically advanced regions in the Russian electrical grid – will host the international CIGRE conference where hot topics related to relay protection and automation will feature, including smart grids, WAMPACS, centralized fault prevention, and synchronized vector (phasor) measurement of electric conditions.

Right before the Metering Europe conference, Russia expects to implement the system of monitoring static stability in one of the most complex regions in Siberia.

So, as you see, in Russia we are working mostly on the projects that will enable an aging infrastructure to work more efficiently by predicting its behavior and knowing the outcomes of any event or change in grid structure. We try to leverage existing assets by empowering them with intelligent components and sophisticated mathematical engines.

Alexey Danilin

Alexey Danilin, Director of Automated Control Systems, UPS of Russia, and partners of Luxoft, has this to say about T&D automation:

“We look forward to see how eastern Russia will go live this year with the 3rd generation of the centralized fault prevention system and we are expecting the grid to be N-1 secure in terms of dynamic and static reliability.

“One of the important features of the automation system is that every 30 seconds the distributed intelligent equipment in the grid receives up-to date instructions to remotely control the industrial load and dynamically manage distributed generation, taking into account all the changes in electromagnetic processes in the grid.

“It is extremely important to understand that existing approaches to energy management are not effective enough. Utilities are conservative and tend to keep what is working in terms of algorithms, technologies, and approaches. At the same time, the blackout page in Wikipedia is devastatingly large. New solutions, based on comparatively cheap intelligent electronic devices, open a new world of interconnected, smart, reliable power systems. Deploying new methods of detection and computing of power flows, electric conditions and equipment parameters, new communication technologies, distributed storage and analysis of the data, and streams processing are the hot topics, not just for tomorrow, but today.

What current projects are you most excited about?
There is a clear trend to deploy the newest IT technologies, approaches, and methodologies. We see the same problems with big data processing in the energy sector as exist in other industries, such as finance. This means that in the near future we will have to cope with big data stream problems and we are excited to work on several projects in these areas. We see that utility companies in the United States have begun to engage consumers with very open communication and we work on projects where we try to build a communication bridge in an effective and convenient way. Who would have guessed 4 years ago that Utilities would request iPad or Facebook applications for integration with MDM and CIS?

At the same time, it is clear that utilities now want to build applications on top of their smart grid deployments, increasing the potential of the smart grid investment to improve productivity, peak curtailments, and other benefits. It is no longer sufficient just to rollout smart meters, it is now crucial to begin to see a return on the investment and its potential for greater savings.  

What are the main challenges in the industry in Russia today?
In many parts of the power system, Russian energy assets are very old and to replace those assets would cost a fortune. New generation and distribution resources would need to be built and integrated with legacy assets. At the same time, with the enormous areas covered by the Russian electrical grid, we are lacking visibility to the entire grid because automatic monitoring and remote control equipment deployment is still an ongoing project in many regions. Most of the resources and efforts are currently being allocated to those ongoing projects.

What is your vision for the industry?
The energy market is already changing and it will change dramatically in the near future, despite the conservative nature of the industry. Energy efficiency and ecology requirements create completely new problems in the fields of physics, chemistry, and information technologies. I believe that we will have to work collaboratively across these industries to uncover successful solutions for all of the challenges. The good news for all of us working in this sector is that, despite the world’s economic problems, energy related jobs, especially in automation, will only increase.

As we work with different vendors, we see that there is still a problem with cross-vendor interoperability. We see a lot of efforts in standardization, and we work in different committees with organizations such as IEC, CIGRE, MultiSpeak, and CIM. But the market is still a long way from the plug-and-play interoperability that we see in computer manufacturing, for example. Furthermore, it is crucial to cut the enormous costs associated with systems integration at deployment.

What surprises you about the industry?
There are a huge number of legacy systems, and all of them are extremely complex to integrate and maintain. Sometimes integration is barely possible and it’s difficult to find another industry where legacy systems are so widely used. Probably, aviation is one of them.