“S&C have completed pilot tests with Eskom and within two months it had saved over 30 customer interruptions.”

Interview with Cleverson Takiguchi: Business Development Director: Africa at S&C Electric. During the upcoming African CleversonUtility Week, Cleverson will present a technical workshop on energy storage while Andrew Jones, Managing Director, S&C Electric Europe, will address the renewables conference track on “Energy Storage as an alternative to upgrading SWER lines”.

1. What in your view are the main challenges currently to the energy industry in Africa?
In Africa electrical infrastructure, job creation and improvements in the standard living for a large number of Africans are interlinked. Creating a reliable, low carbon, infrastructure where people can rely on being able to use electricity must be the number one challenge. However, it should not be forgotten that electricity networks typically have an expected life in excess of 30 years, so making the choice of materials and design today will have a significant bearing on how successful the infrastructure will cope in the years to come. There have been many instances where lowest first off price products have been installed and then replaced within five years, meaning that lifetime costs are very high.

2. What is your vision for this industry?

It is quite promising because the challenges we see in Africa match the areas where S&C have the most experience. At the same time, it is quite challenging to position ourselves in a market where we do not have as many years of experience, but we are confident that we can take our global experience and tailored solutions specifically to the African market. Africa is in a unique position as its people can benefit from global lessons and experience. This means that Africa has the opportunity to cherry pick the solutions that they require and leap-frog to advanced reliable technology and avoid the issues that Europe and the USA are experiencing now.

3. S&C have already gained some positive field results of a couple of pilots we have been running at key local utilities.

You are part of the conference programme at this year’s African Utility Week in May, what will be your message?
The future for Africa is bright and the prospect of bringing electricity to a larger number of people will become a reality by optimising renewable and smart grid technologies. We believe the proven S&C solutions will help this transition ensuring a robust network for many years to come. We will be concentrating our messaging around delivering the best lifetime value. Lifetime value may not be the lowest initially investment, but S&C aims to show utilities that they must take into account the entire lifespan of the asset. S&C is eager to present business cases surrounding this area, to inform utilities about the most cost effective solutions to their problems.

4. Tell us more about your organisation and your activities in the utility industry.

S&C was established 104 years ago and continues to be a thought leader in the Switching and Protection industry as well as in Smart Grid applications and Renewable Integration. S&C is headquartered in Chicago, and has 3 additional manufacturing locations in the U.S, and also Canada, Brazil, China and Mexico.

S&C Electric Europe Ltd. is a provider of equipment and services for electric power transmission and distribution systems. S&C is a long established company with vast experience of the utility market. It offers a range of solutions to the utility sector that is built on proven technology that provides low life time cost solutions that meet customer needs.

Within Africa we are concentrating on improving the reliability of the network ensuring industrial, commercial and domestic customers have minimal impact and the second is integrating renewable generation into the grid.

5. Any specific project updates/success stories that you can share?

S&C see many areas of potential in Africa. These include: Distribution Automation and Renewables Integration. We have been deploying distribution automation since 1996 with probably the largest installed base at Global level with hundreds of users; thousands of successful operations; millions of minutes of interruptions avoided. In Renewables we have integrated over 8GW through EPC, by providing Reactive compensation or Energy Storage. Just recently we put in operation the largest Battery Energy Storage System (6MW/10MWh) in Europe, among many other recent strides towards a low carbon grid.

Within Africa S&C can already boast some very impressive success stories. S&C have completed pilot tests with Eskom where S&C installed their TripSaver® II Cutout-Mounted recloser technology.   Within 2 months it had saved over 30 customer interruptions. Although it is difficult to compare North American and European costs to African, this would have resulted in a saving of $15,000 in crew costs needed to investigate and reinstate the network. Therefore, even if African costs are only 10% of North American and European, the product would have already achieved a payback period of less than one year.

Similarly, in another pilot with Eskom, S&C installed their IntelliRupter® PulseCloser units on a long feeder which suffered from chronic temporary faults. These faults were not being addressed well with conventional reclosers. IntelliRupter® PulseCloser produced 10 successful operations in the first 6 months which resulted in an incredibly quick payback period.

6. What are you most looking forward to at African Utility Week?

We look forward to the enthusiasm of the people at the event as they seek to learn about our technology and our installations in Africa. It will great for our Business Development Director who is based in South Africa to meet customers old and new. S&C is excited about the opportunities to showcase our innovative solutions and increasing our brand awareness.

7. Anything you would like to add?
Africa is an exciting place to be right now in this industry and S&C are privileged to be able to be at the forefront of grid development.