During the successful +Series Grid Modernisation day last week, Enlit Asia had the opportunity to speak with a myriad of power professionals who highlighted some interesting trends of the future. We also had a pretty healthy turnout but don’t take our word for it and click the link at the bottom to watch on-demand interviews and panel conversations if you haven’t already.
One of our distinguished speakers we had the opportunity to speak with and who was also the winner of the best background for his filmed interview was Pak Bob Saril of Director of Commerce and Customer Management at PT PLN (Persero). During the segment entitled “Reliability and Digitalisation Drive PLN’s Grid Development Strategy” Saril shared his experience with the pandemic and the challenges he’s faced keeping the lights on for 78 million customers inclusive of budget cuts. “The main job is to make sure that the availability will be there and reliability is better. The availability or the supply of the electricity to the customers becomes the most important because we want to make sure we can still maintain a good supply with good availability.” Saril went on to say he cares about his customers which was part of the reason PLN has begun to adopt more digitalisation especially during the pandemic. “We want to make sure that everything can be monitored and everything can be controlled remotely. That every data that is coming up from the operation and that this data can be later use[d] as big data analytics,” Saril said.
Giving credit where credit is due, PLN has done an incredible job in electrifying Indonesia. We asked Saril about what specific obstacles PLN was up against while ensuring power availability. Saril said they have not reached 100% mainly because of the nature of inaccessible geographical areas or isolated islands. “A small village [can be] in a very remote area. We [first] build a network within the distribution network and then get it distributed to the customers.” Distribution is paramount and PLN is working methodically towards expanding the grid to include even the most remote home.
In terms of what grid supporting technologies or services Saril is looking forward to exploring, Saril said the most important with regards to digitalization, is artificial intelligence as well as probing technology and data. In conjunction to a strong monitoring system, Saril said “under that we can scale up the data. We can also back up the data [because] yes, the data is very big.” Saril suggested that also to improve the grid itself, a SCADA system could be integrated. “The SCADA system may be improved more, because we want to modernize our other system…And then, the last thing, but not the least, is cost efficiency. Even though it is high tech, but it is, again, the consideration is about the money thing,” Saril said.
From PLN’s strategies to EVN HCMC’s, we also have the honour of speaking with Dr. Luan Quoc Hung, the Deputy Director General. Dr. Hung spoke in the segment entitled “EVN Prioritises Customer First Approach in Grid Development” and he touched upon the outlook for electricity distribution in Southeast Asia. “For me, the Southeast Asia in the power sector, is a very, very dynamic market. A good example is [the] Vietnamese [holding] a world record on solar install per day. The second thing is [for] utility in [places such as] Ho Chi Minh City or Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, we are willing and we are ready to invest on the disruptive technology in the power sector,” said Hung.
Fast-forwarding to the future, Hung sees certain trends potentially impacting the power industry and to be ready, the EVN HCMC must prepare by building resources. Hung believes “the solar or distributed resources will become the real challenge and the real chance to change the business model.” He went on to say that research will help them overcome these challenges and will lead to digitalisation. “The digital transformation is not new…and now, we will set up our roadmap for digital transformation by this April. For now, we define that it is to challenge that we need to face [the] distributed resources and digital transformation. We have a very, very clear for this program for this,” Hung said.
The clear plan moving forward for EVN HCMC is a tool that helps set the stage for digitalisation but Hung said it all goes back to the consumer’s benefit. “Whatever we are doing now, [it] is for the for people. The first thing is to improve the power quality or reliability [and the] second, is to reduce energy losses and the last one is energy efficiency,” Hung said. Whether it be from disruptive technology or current methods, EVN HCMC is literally bringing power to the people one home at a time.