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Sabine Erlinghagen with Siemens Grid Software
4th March 2024 • The Industrial Talk Podcast with Scott MacKenzie • The Industrial Talk Podcast with Scott MacKenzie
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Industrial Talk is onsite at DistribuTECH and talking to Sabine Erlinghagen, CEO of Siemens Grid Solutions about "The dynamic and ever changing world of managing power".  Here are some of the key takeaways from our conversation:
  • Industry innovation and problem-solving at Distributech. 0:03
    • Sabine from Siemens Grid Software discusses industry innovation and collaboration at DistribuTech in Orlando.
  • Grid modernization and the increasing demand for electricity. 1:57
    • Sabine: Grid modernization is needed to keep up with increasing electricity demand, which is expected to triple in the next decade.
    • Scott MacKenzie: The demand for electricity is rising faster than grid capacity, and new ways of managing the grid are needed to keep up with the pace of electrification.
    • Sabine: AI demand for electricity is 5-10 times higher than traditional computing, adding nations' worth of demand to the grid.
    • Sabine: Software solutions like Siemens' grid software can optimize existing capacity to avoid stranded investments and extract maximum value from existing assets.
  • Using smart meter data to analyze transformer load and prevent failures. 7:06
    • Transformers and substations overheating due to lack of data and insights, leading to unexpected failures and long wait times for replacements.
    • The solution uses smart meter data to disaggregate and analyze load patterns, providing insights into individual appliances and their energy usage.
    • Sabine emphasizes the importance of time series data and historic load information to understand transformer behavior and predict potential failures.
  • Autonomous grid management and the role of software in reducing complexity. 13:20
    • Sabine emphasizes leadership and collaboration in shaping a joint vision for autonomous grid management.
    • Autonomous grid management requires rethinking top-down approaches and leveraging millions of independently behaving assets.
    • Sabine: Autonomous grid management like autonomous driving, stepwise progression to reduce complexity and improve safety.
  • Modernizing the grid with Siemens' Grid Software. 20:41
    • Scott MacKenzie and Speaker 2 discuss the importance of modernizing the grid and the role of Siemens grid software in this process.
    • Sabine highlights the benefits of using Siemens Grid Software, including seamless integration and collaboration, and encourages listeners to connect with her and the Siemens team.
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Welcome to the Industrial Talk podcast with Scott Mackenzie. Scott is a passionate industry professional dedicated to transferring cutting edge industry focused innovations and trends while highlighting the men and women who keep the world moving. So put on your hard hat, grab your work boots, and let's go. Alright, once again, welcome to Industrial Talk, the number one industrial related podcast in the universe that celebrates industry professionals all around the world, you are bold, brave, you dare greatly you innovate, you collaborate, you solve problems. And that's why this platform celebrates you, because you deserve every bit of the celebration. And we are broadcasting on site here at DistribuTech. This is in Orlando, Florida. And it is, again a collection of problem solvers that are dedicated to making the world a better place. We are very fortunate to be here. And we're very fortunate to have Sabine back in the hot seat. She is with Siemens grid software. And we're going to talk about how things have changed since the last conversation. Let's get cracking. Hey, Sabine, how are you? Hey, thank you for your patience. Thank you for your flexibility. I was so excited. I just said,


like to talk to Sabine again. Because the last conversation was great. I was looking forward to this one. And where are you? That's cool, man. Because


it never it never.


It never goes unnoticed when it comes to an event like this. And


you see the innovation that is happening? And how it's just if you're not in the game if you're not actively pursuing solutions, or ideas or collaborating. Ah, thank you very much. It only takes a week and you're out of you're out of sync with what's going on? Absolutely. I mean, the pace is just ever increasing. It's amazing. And if not here, like where would you feel it? It's like physical and you could feel the pace and the power that's in this industry. So with that said, we spoke about grid monetization last time. It's still Siemens grid software, which is the still the organization and take us through what has changed from a couple of years back when we had this conversation to where we are today, because I can't I get way, way above my paygrade.


omes at it, but in six years,:


So the amount of electricity demand will just rise sharply. And we were debating whether the demand that is added by artificial intelligence is actually already accounted for. Or whether it's like even adding to this hold it I don't understand when you saw it and say the demand of artificial intelligence. What do you mean by that? I mean, today, the amount of electricity that data centers are consuming is like at nation scale. So it's the same then a large country and now when you look


At the processing capacity and the electricity demand for AI, it's five to 10 times what it used to be like those chips consume five to 10 times the electricity than regular ones, five to 10 times the demand of data centers is like adding nations to the demand. And I think when we talk 2x 3x, this is not accounting for


you below in my mind, because I can't, I can't wrap my little mind around all of that. And, and, and with the pressure of


net zero, trying to figure out that equation in light of all of the demands that are going to be required of the grid. what's what? For, for the the individual out there? Now that I'm not happy, and I'm uncomfortable with the realities of the that exist out there? What are some solutions? What is Siemens grid? Software? What What, what's that solution look like? I mean, first of all, I want to say that Undoubtedly, this means building new transmission lines, this means stepping up the distribution grid, and there's a massive amount of investments, you talk hundreds of billions going in there. So that absolutely is, is key, and is fundamental, and with whatever software solutions, he can get around that. But


you got to make sure every dollar that we invest, there is the right dollar, you can't afford stranded investments, you can't afford to be slow. So what Siemens Grid Software or software in general can do is a utilize the existing capacity, up to their physical limits. We don't do that we like a blind, you optimize us extract all the value as you possibly can with these existing assets, and therefore you don't have any stranded component to it. Correct. At the moment, we don't know how much transformers and substations are really loaded. We don't know the effect of DRS on the network. So for a pole top transformer, a second, Evie, on the same line might just be enough to blow it up. And if now you have several pole top transformers rolling up to one substation,


like what's that gonna make? So unless you know what's happening, you can like, understand what's the right investment? Do I replace this in this way? Or another way? Is this enough capacity, too much capacity, we don't have the data, I was just going to say just when you just use the analogy or the use case of a pole top transformer, how many pole top transformers exist out there, how much information it needs to be gathered to be able to have that insights, that visibility into that asset that that pole top transformer, that nameplate whatever it is, so that you can properly say, yeah, it's capable of x, you know, no X, that's it's right at the limit. I don't, I don't even know where you begin, I can make the problem for a second, larger before I come.


So if you're overheating transformers, and don't let them cool down enough, and you don't know when that's happening, the lifetime of a transformer can go up to a 10th of this the original lifetime. So you will have unexpected failures in a row without knowing that this is coming about. And if you add to that equation that the current supply chain is two years for a new transformer, it's you get scared. It's insane.


I'm ready to curl up in a ball there. Because all I care about as a consumer of power, which I am. I just want. I want it safe, clean whatever I want. I want it to not flicker. Now you want your house to be warm. You want your house to be cool. You want your car to be charged. You want your phone to be charged. I want my clock to be blinking at me. That clock to blink at me. So yeah, you're right. So what do we do? So previously, the answer had been like, oh, let's put let's put a lot of sensors out there. And let's try to put complicated systems and then you're thinking about hardware rollouts, and they take forever and in the meantime, you have your transformers already blown up and and so forth or you have connection queues, queues of interconnection requests, like oh, you can put this EV on there. You can do this. You can do this. A lot of renewables queueing. So what we are proposing is, with smart metering being very prevalent and I'm not here


even talking about ami 2.0.


You can use those as a sensor. And if you then put, like, match that with the grid topology and the understanding what meter, this is like what pole top transformer this meter is connected to. And if you understand what this pulse transformer, like how it's rolling up to a substation, you can actually just see it, you're turning a blind spot inside without adding any hardware. And with just applying the means of software and using the data that you already have, and because they're already smart, I remember back then when we started to deploy smart metering, that was a big deal. That is nothing now, homes have smart meters. And so you're able to, with your solution with your capabilities, be able to glean insights into what's taking place, with a smart meter and collectively look at it from from a holistic perspective. Yes. In essence, you take the smart meter data and disaggregated to see


like, is there an Eevee? And what type of load pattern does the VF is there? PV? What type of load pattern does that have? Are there other heat pump type things? Like what's the load pattern of that? So you disaggregate that, you understand the patterns, and you understand previous violations. So you can see how many times what duration has your transformer your substation been suffering from by limit violations. And you can make predictions. And you can understand we call that the grid impact score, you can understand which asset is running closer to a failure. And you can understand, like, what's a good timeframe for replacement and also what's a good sizing for a replacement. So you're de risking the whole story.


All I can think of Sabine is, is the amount it's like, like, it's dynamic. It changes dramatically. it on a daily basis as you continue to say, hey, EVs are good. Go get EVs go get EVs you know, you mark it, you know, there's a there's a demand for EVs, there's a demand for smart stuff. And, and which then increases the


demand on the on the grid itself, correct? I don't know how you, how does how does your solution deal with the dynamics, it's just, it's just so dynamic.


And he's just like, all over the place. I mean, the information of whether or not you have an Eevee, or you have a heat pump is interesting. But by far not enough, what you need is the actual time series of the behavior, and you need that near real time and the historic data, right? And then you can learn from it, you can say, Oh, this transformer has been violating a load limit for so long. Because you know, the time series, you know, what's been has been happening, and you actually see it. And the, I think, why software, so important software is a great thing to reduce complexity for humans. So if the software is doing the sensemaking, and just giving you this is the grid impact score, this is how much you're at risk to, to run this asset to failure, then it's all of a sudden is becoming very simple. Because the software and the AI in it is there to do the sensemaking to do the analysis and to analyze I mean, it's millions and millions and millions of data points.


Yeah, absolutely. And that's what overwhelms me. How do you deal in the world of


Siemens is a very nimble company, as i i view from far right, nimble. That's great. How do you deal with the disconnect between utilities, regular regulators? Not so nimble, but this is happening? Are they becoming more aware? I mean, I know they're aware, but it is happening.


I mean, we come from grid software summit on Monday, and Barbara Hampton, the president of Siemens us said a great thing. She said, What It Takes us leadership, and you have great leaders and utilities, and those leaders pave the way forward. So we had Paul Lau on stage from smart and I mean, what an impressive lead and


like really somebody who has a vision there and to so you definitely have those leaders in our industry.


And the essence is to collaborate to work together among leaders amongst shape a joint vision, shape, a joint vision, the vision that we actually see is one of autonomous grid management. And if we gather around that vision, if we have leaders agree on, what's the North Star, where do we what's the direction of travel, then the only way to move something in this industry, as you rightly said, is by partnering by working together, and by just leading the way, paving the way literally, for others to follow. It's, it always gets down to the human equation. Yeah, it always does. And you're right, you're gonna have to have somebody or group of individuals that are leading the way. I like the term autonomous grid management, because from my perspective, and my my understanding back when it was pretty straightforward from a grid perspective, you know, generation transmission, distribution, substations


load demand, you know, managing supply, and all that good stuff. Easy, relatively easy, very important. That's not the case. And it has to be you there is no way that a human can make those instantaneous


adjustments to correct the grid without some software, correct. I mean, what I said on Monday was,


we got to flip our thinking for grip management on a tap so far as you were precisely describing the whole paradigm was one of top down big generation, sophisticated transmission, and then statistical load profiles to distribute just a linear shot and just like go all the way down to that plug. And if we look at the sheer number of distributed energy resources out there, we were just talking about Texas, it was a forecast for one day, and they missed the mark by five gigawatt, because there was distributed energy resources that they were unaware. No way. And if that is true, then already we are at the point where what's happening at the distribution grid is so significant and scale that how can we afford to continue to think top down, we need to rethink it entirely. And build it back up, bottom up. And if you do that, the the only conclusion that you can come to is that a human brain can't do this? No. It's millions and millions of assets who are independently behaving. And if you go into a control room these days, a control room operator already is bombarded with alarms. They have 15 screens there. And now tell them no, we have more information, more alarms, more screens. Can you please continue to manage the safety? The stress under which these operators are is insane?


And you can't make mistakes? You can't do it? Yeah. I mean, we've seen


that was Brazil, but we've seen riots in the streets, because outages weren't solved. communication to the consumer wasn't done. Well. I mean, this is a societal like,


like the coalition in society is affected if you don't see our and B, you're absolutely right. And because of that, that,


that volatility, right,


whatever effort you're making, whatever,


whatever innovations that are happening, if you don't get the people part, right, it's definitely going to impact the progress of whatever is taking place, because I'm going to scream bloody murder, and everybody else is going to scream bloody murder.


100%. And that's why


the the way that we're seeing is, you need to I mean, autonomous grip management, I always put the analogy of autonomous driving, right? Yeah. So when first somebody said, Oh, we will have autonomous cars, people said, Oh, I'm scared. This is this, this, this can't happen. But what happened in the meantime, is that mean no way you jump from level one to level five autonomous driving in one step. But I mean, who wants to miss their kind of assistance systems, their cruise control adaptive cruise control systems in their car these days? It's like makes helps you reduce complexity. It helps you in very bad traffic and helps you like to reduce the load on the human


I'm quite significantly in and asked for intervention when the cruise control itself doesn't like isn't sure enough? And that's the same thing that I'm expecting for grids like that.


I'm thinking of a co pilot type weight,


much like the cruise control. Yeah, like in normal conditions, no critical infrastructure. Why wouldn't the system be able to do that, like still observed by the operator and asking the operator if maybe there's a critical infrastructure if there's something weird, but that's the only way step by step going from level two to level three to level four? It is, but you gotta, you have to move. You have to do it. You just can't. It's not a big bang solution. You can't do that. And we believe that what I've been just describing about understanding the behavior of DRS is really the foundational step for clarification. Dr. Ah, yes. Distributed Energy. Thank you. I knew it, but


because I was scheduled. And what about distributed? What about that?


Yeah, but that's good. Good.


lingo, right.


But that's true. Yeah. It's a must. Yeah, it starts from there. That's about kind of flipping it on its head. That's big time flip on my head. Yes. All right. How do people get a whole use of being this was a great conversation. You never disappoint you never.


This is the second conversation. You didn't disappoint the first time.


How did it go? Oh, yeah, what's the what's the best way to be able to go to I mean, we are featured big time there for everything we're doing here at this premier tech. And you'll find me on LinkedIn, of course.


Awesome. That's Sabine, Siemens Grid Software, got it. Siemens Grid Software, check them out, go out to We're gonna have all the contact information for Sabine out on Industrial Talk. So if you're not you'll be able to connect with her and and the rest of the Siemens team, because they're cool. They're cool team. All right. We're gonna wrap it up on this, I stay tuned, we will be right back. You're listening to the Industrial Talk Podcast Network.


You know what the game is, the game is about education. The game is about collaborating. And definitely the game is about innovation. Pulling all three of those together is critical to your success. Sabine is a great example. Siemens Grid Software, absolutely reflects all of that. This was a must calm connection. We're going to have all of the contact information for Sabine out on Industrial Talk. So again,


it's a collaboration game. Team, Siemens is here for you and your success. And I, I am so thankful that we have companies like Siemens, that are leading the way in how we modernize the grid, which, as she put it, just doesn't cut it anymore. But anyway, seamless grid software, Sabine is the contact, make it happen because you will not be disappointed. Be bold, be brave, dare greatly go to distribute tech next year and you'll be definitely satisfied. We're going to have another great conversation shortly. So stay tuned.



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