The dynamics of global energy supply, demand, and infrastructure dependencies are probably undergoing more changes today than at any time since the 1970s. Demand in the developed world is moderating as energy efficiency, conservation, and more resourceful commercial, industrial, and residential consumers predominate. Simultaneously, as the population and economies of the developing world expand dramatically, their appetite for energy grows accordingly. Within this changing global energy environment, the power and utilities industry has an opportunity to work through this disruption and truly innovate.
India is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. The enterprise has been affected by lack of consistent power supply which has hampered the sector's growth. Growing population and rising industrialization are likely to fuel the demand for energy in India. Constant power supply is a prerequisite for any ecosystem to flourish. Initiatives taken by the government focus on managing the demand for energy through innovative energy-conservation measures.
Modern digital equipment such as personal computers/workstations, network servers, storage systems, and telecom equipment come with the capability to implement millions and billions of transactions per second using sophisticated microprocessors that function at megahertz or even gigahertz frequencies. For such digital equipment, any disturbance in power supply can affect hundreds and thousands of basic operations, even if such disturbances last for just a few milliseconds, potentially resulting in system/equipment malfunction, loss of vital data, and erosion in revenues. The negative impact of power supply disturbances/outages is clearly manifested in mission critical facilities such as datacenters, telecom backbone infrastructure, hospitals, power grids, military units, and process manufacturing facilities among others. With the rise of smart connected homes, the importance of UPS systems is also growing in residential homes.
Uninterruptible Power Supply Systems
Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) system, defined as a device designed to facilitate an electrical or electronic load to keep running when the primary power source is lost or becomes unavailable for short durations, is a robust tool that fully supports the reliable and consistent power supply needs of modern digital equipment. A combination of electronic power converters, switches, and power storage batteries, UPS system maintains the continuity of power supply to a load during input power failures while also functioning as a power conditioning tool protecting the equipment against power surges, spikes, sags, burnouts, etc. Acting as an interface between the mains electricity and the loads, UPS system supplies continuous electrical power to the load, irrespective of the status of the primary electricity source. The market is growing at a healthy pace supported by sustained expansion in industrial, commercial, and business sectors, and growing investments in IT and related infrastructure across various industries. The market is also benefiting from the wider proliferation of technologically advanced UPS models integrated with superior features enhancing the adaptability, availability, manageability, serviceability, and safety of the system.
The global market for UPS systems is projected to reach USD 13.7 billion by 2022, driven by the increased need for uninterrupted, consistent, and reliable power supply for flawless functioning of modern digital equipment in residential/consumer, enterprise IT, industrial, commercial, telecom, and data center environments. Europe represents the largest market worldwide. Asia-Pacific ranks as the fastest-growing market with a CAGR of 7.2 percent over the period 2016–2022. Over the course of next 5 years, majority of the demand is expected to arise from Asia-Pacific, followed by North America, Europe, South America, and Middle-East & Africa.
With widespread adoption of technologies like cloud-based technologies and mobility solutions, UPS systems are being widely adopted in data center applications such as telecom, IT/ITeS, retail, hospitality, and BFSI sectors. Demand is led by expanding industrial, business, and commercial sectors, large-installed base of digital equipment, adoption of automation and smart factory technologies in the manufacturing sector, rise in the number of networked homes as a result of the growing digital affluence of the expanding base of middle-class population, and proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT) devices in virtually every industry and market. Consequently, commercial end-user segment accounts for the largest share in the global UPS market, with UPS less than 5 KVA representing the largest product market, while, above 500 KVA UPS constitutes the fastest-growing segment.
Major global players include ABB Ltd., Active Power Inc., American Power Conversion Corp., Consul Neowatt Power Solutions Pvt. Ltd., CyberPower Systems Inc., Delta Power Solutions, East Group Co. Ltd., Eaton Corporation plc, Emerson Electric Co., Fuji Electric Co. Ltd., General Electric Company, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., Legrand S.A., Numeric Power Systems Ltd., Piller Power Systems, RPS Spa, Schneider Electric SE, Shenzhen KSTAR Science and Technology Co. Ltd., Socomec Group, Toshiba Corporation, Tripp Lite, WeP Peripherals Limited, and Xiamen Kehua Hengsheng Co. Ltd., among others. Other leading brands in India include Numeric UPS, Su-Kam Power Systems, Microtek International, Hitachi HI-REL Power Electronics, and Luminous Power Technologies.
Green UPS. Environmental wellbeing is abuzz everywhere these days, and vendors are capitalizing on this trend by framing their services and products in a green-friendly context. Energy storage is considered as one of the top five technologies that can delay climate change in the grand scheme of things. Many countries are increasingly adopting UPS systems for energy storage to reduce their environmental impact.
At the forefront of the green UPS solutions trend are two key-players, Emerson Electric and Eaton. Both companies offer systems capable of operating with 96 and 99 percent energy efficiency. Meanwhile, many vendors are working on developing next-generation power storage technologies which will further aid the environment-related efforts of companies. For instance, instead of using electricity, many greener methods such as solar and wind energy might be used to charge the batteries in UPS systems.
Electric Power Industry Transformation
As the performance of the three core digital building blocks – computing power, data storage, and bandwidth utilization – relative to cost (and size) roughly double every 24–30 months, they fuel the growth of other composite exponential technologies like advanced analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, drones, additive manufacturing (3-D printing), and wearables. And these technologies are in turn being combined to enable exponential change in the business processes and customer interactions of many fields, including energy.
The good news is that exponential technologies are already helping electric utilities optimize the grid to reach their goals for reliability, resiliency, efficiency, affordability, and environmental responsibility. At the same time, exponential technologies also support products and services that open the electric power industry to new entrants, like renewable energy and energy-efficiency providers. Thanks to these exponential technologies, electric utilities can now deploy devices such as smart meters, voltage monitors, and heat sensors across their systems, link them through high-speed communication networks, and combine them with advanced analytics to enable sophisticated decision making and problem solving in real time.
Overseas, some are linking in remotely controlled robotic devices and drones to inspect and maintain distribution systems and assess storm damage. Similarly, gas utilities overseas are deploying progressively more sophisticated robotics to inspect pipelines inside and outside for damage or leaks. This overall Internet of Things is increasingly enabling utilities to monitor, control, and optimize grid and system resources, improving performance and asset utilization.
And, just as exponential technologies enable grid automation and optimization, they are also spurring the growth of distributed energy resources, such as wind and solar power, electricity storage, demand response, and energy efficiency. Solar power researchers, for example, are using supercomputers to design more efficient, less costly solar panels. Researchers at the laboratories feed desired attributes for solar cell materials like high light-absorptive capacity, flexibility, availability, and non-toxicity into a supercomputer to arrive at possible combinations of materials that they might fabricate and test. Other researchers are using 3-D printers to create solar panels that could capture up to 20 percent more sunlight and cut production costs as much as 50 percent.
Fortunately, exponential innovation is helping out there as well. In addition to the two-way communications and monitoring devices, utilities are using sophisticated new weather forecasting tools and models that are allowing them to better understand the variance in available solar and wind resources. Some electric companies have been able to leverage the synergies between wind and solar resources and dispatch them together so they can stand on their own and be as dependable as a conventional power plant.
Companies may need to adopt a new mindset to recognize that they live in a time of exponential change and that this will impact their business. They should remain open and examine the potential of these technologies, alone or in combination, to change their operating models, their product/service platforms and, most importantly, their customers' experience. They should be more aggressive, less "business-case oriented," and more financially risk tolerant of deploying and testing technologies. They should also become more aware of the ecosystem in which they operate and take advantage of opportunities to partner with technology companies, research labs, and other potential partners. And importantly, exponential technologies are not the sole domain of start-ups and tech companies. Large incumbents can harness them effectively as well.
Exponential technologies are accelerating the momentum behind the electric power industry transformation.