Interview: Sally Jacquemin

VP and GM, Power and Utilities at Aspen Technology, Inc

Utilities Must Invest in Digital Grid Solutions Amid Energy Transition and Emerging Threats

May 23, 2024. By Abha Rustagi

The expansion and modernization of electrical generation sources, transmission and distribution networks are imperative to meet the burgeoning electrification demand and to integrate renewable energy sources effectively, says, Sally Jacquemin, VP and GM, Power and Utilities, Aspen Technology, Inc in an interview with Abha Rustagi, Senior Journalist, Energetica India.

Que: Can you please share insights into your role as VP and GM for the power and utilities business at Aspen Technology?

Ans: As the VP and GM for the power and utilities business at Aspen Technology, I oversee strategic customer engagement, solution strategy, and global growth opportunities for AspenTech’s software solutions portfolio. The company’s power & utilities solutions have a strong foundation with the Digital Grid Management product suite, which provides comprehensive real-time Operational Technology (OT) for electric, gas, and water utilities.

The Digital Grid Management product suite is natively built on AspenTech OSI monarch SCADA platform with electric applications spanning the entire value chain including Generation Management, Transmission Management, Distribution Management, Distributed Energy Resource Management System (DERMS) and many others. Its flexible and modular architecture and evergreen product approach ensures it can meet the needs of our customers, as operating needs expand and change, due to the global energy transition. My role also includes establishing and executing corporate strategies for the company’s power and utility business segment to ensure continued innovation and market leadership.

Que: AspenTech has announced an alliance with EY to assist clients in industrial and energy markets in meeting sustainability targets. Can you please elaborate on how this alliance will benefit organizations in the power and utilities sector?

Ans: AspenTech’s utility customers are at the center of the global energy transition, which is providing significant challenges and opportunities for the industry. The energy transition is manifesting on such a huge scale – global energy generation is expected to grow 2.6x by 2050 with the electric grid expected to double in size by 2040 to support the expanding capacity. This will require significant utility investment in not only grid infrastructure, but also digital grid management solutions (IEA, 2023).

Successfully addressing these challenges will require a robust partner ecosystem to support the utility industry as they adapt and expand. As a key partner to utilities, we are working to establish a global partner network in each region with qualified advisory, technology, and service implementation partners.

One such alliance is with EY. Combining EY’s expertise in enabling both utility Operational Technology (OT) and Information Technology (IT) projects, they are a natural fit for providing implementation service capabilities with our Digital Grid Management product suite.

Que: How do you envision AspenTech solutions aiding in the energy transition, particularly in the areas of digital grid management?

Ans: The expansion and modernization of electrical generation sources, transmission and distribution networks are imperative to meet the burgeoning electrification demand and to integrate renewable energy sources effectively. AspenTech’s digital grid management solutions, including Generation Management Systems (GMS), Energy Management Systems (EMS) for Transmission Operators, Advanced Distribution Management Systems (ADMS) for Distribution Operators and Distributed Energy Resources Management Systems (DERMS), are pivotal in addressing the complexities brought by increased renewables, greater electrification, significantly more grid assets and associated data, as well as greater engagement with prosumers and grid-edge technology.

By providing enhanced visibility and control over the grid, these digital systems enable utilities to produce, transmit and distribute power, while maintaining grid stability and reliability, in the face of increasing demand and the variable nature of renewable energy sources.

Que: What does the future look like for digital solutions in optimizing the lifecycle of asset design, operation and maintenance in industries, such as power and utilities?

Ans: Digital technologies are a core component for utilities in navigating the challenges of the energy transition. By leveraging as-operated network models for visibility, control and automation, load and generation data for forecasting and scheduling, as well as advanced analytics and AI, our digital solutions optimize the real-time operations of the grid. These technologies enable more accurate demand forecasting, supply and load balancing, and renewable integration, thereby mitigating some of the operational challenges with the accelerated energy transition on the grid.

Our vision for the utility of the future starts with enhancing our Digital Grid Management suite to expand beyond the control room, to create a self-optimizing grid. Here, we will shift focus beyond the control room to the near-adjacency utility functions where real-time operational data becomes the crucial catalyst for unleashing new capabilities and value in planning and maintenance functions.

Que: How does AspenTech leverage its deep domain expertise and innovation to assist utilities worldwide, in areas such as renewable energy expansion and grid modernization?

Ans: As a strong proof point to AspenTech’s deep domain expertise and innovation, the company has recently announced the implementation of its digital grid management solutions by Adani Electricity, which supplies power to more than three million customers throughout Mumbai. AspenTech’s next generation SCADA and ADMS systems were incorporated into Adani Electricity’s new network operation center located in Hiranandani Power, allowing the utility to monitor and control the electric distribution grid in real-time.

In this case, Adani Electricity noted that the launch of the company’s Powai Network Operation Center with India’s first ADMS is a watershed moment for both the company and the region’s power landscape. This collaboration is part of the company’s aim to provide 60% renewable electricity to Mumbai by 2027. Adani Electricity’s service area covers 85% of Mumbai’s geography, serving almost 70% of its population.

Que: Looking forward, what are your visions and goals for the power and utilities business segment of AspenTech, and how do you plan to drive sustainable growth and value for your customers in the coming years?

Ans: With the acceleration of the energy transition, the transformation of the physical grid infrastructure to support load growth, increases in severe weather events and cyber security threats, utilities must significantly invest in the right digital grid management solutions. For example, solutions that react faster, process more data, automate intelligence, and add net new capabilities to address the complexity of conditions across the grid, as they change dynamically.

Utilities need to find new ways to keep the power on for customers and manage thousands or even millions of devices. Hence, we enable customers to achieve sustainable growth via digital grid management software, which offers a pathway to create significant new value for utilities through operational improvements, more efficient utilization of existing assets and harnessing of renewables and DERs to enable non-carbon emitting grid resources.

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