Jan Declercq

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Jan Declercq is Chief Business Development Officer of CG Holdings, a global products and systems provider in Transmission and Distribution of electric energy. Speaking at the IEEE Smart Grid World Forum in Brussels, Jan discusses a broad array of topics including the essential role of standards in smart grid for uniformity and innovation, the use of cables/cabling technology, and the two levels of security – physical and cyber.




CG Holdings belongs to the CG Group, which is an Indian based multinational specializing in power equipment, in transmission and distribution. The headquarters of CG Power is in Belgium, and we have manufacturing facilities in the United States and Canada, in Hungary, in France, in Belgium, Ireland, UK, India, and Indonesia. I'm the Chief Business Development Officer. I'm responsible globally for innovation and new markets.


So we have, let's say, two major strategies for new markets. One is on the renewable energy sector. The other one is on the smart grid sector. Regarding renewable energy, we split it up as a D&D company into four things: transmission, distribution, as well as products and systems.

We have a dedicated strategy for all of those four segments. For example, for products, we developed special design products. We have the largest market share for wind turbines here, onshore and offshore in Europe. We also supply a lot of [inaudible 01:28] for example for the United States wind farms and Canada wind farms. Products, power transformers for connecting big wind farms to the grid.

Then the systems, they are similar but everything is from a systems approach, from a system where we connect then the very big wind farms to the grid. In the United States, we connect more or less 2,000 megawatts per year to the grid. Now, we are also attacking solar.

This is what we mainly do from that part. That's what we call our renewable energy strategy as a D&D company. This involves a lot of products, new products, compact, efficient, reliable, cost competitive, and more and more integration. So, we team up with the [inaudible 02:10] manufacturers or with the grid integrator in order to make the system more reliable and more efficient.


Smartness means a lot of things. For me, smartness, we have all those four blocks again, transmission, distribution, products, products, and systems. From a component level, we make them smart by, for example, handle all the variable generation or variable fluctuations or new binary conditions on the grid, such as fluctuations, a lot of variations. We also say can you design a component that lasts for 20 years instead of last for 30 or 40 years.

One thing is we make components small by adding monitoring and automation onto the component itself so that component becomes intelligence. The same is happening at the substation level and not the system level. So, first step is that we make the substation smart. We're using more intelligent devices, IIDs, on the substation level so that they can communicate much better.

Next, we have our automation program where we are developing self-healing networks, but these are more on the grid integration level.


I represent several of these organizations, and they also hear the topic several times. I think one thing, the energy flow is really crucial but I think the security of two level of data in my eyes. When you talk about transmission automation or substation automation, you have data which is really needed at protection level to keep everything operating. They don't allow any security breach because it directly has an impact on operational performance.

But then you have a lot of other data, we consider. First one is need to have. The other one is nice to have. For example, if you have a lot of monitoring system and if this data got lost, your system will not fail. You will have less data, but your system will keep on running. The first level of security must always be guaranteed.

Secured lines, special cyber security, different protocols, that's really strategic for the country and for the region. The other data, it's so much. I would say it's more to do with the private sector or personal data that you don't like to get breached. But there will not be, I think, a negative impact on the system or the operation. You don't like that people see your data, but it will not affect the power flows in your house or in the region. I split that in two levels of security.


Standards are very essential in all those markets. I've been very actively involved in the European standard [inaudible 5:14], global IEC as well as in IEEE standards. The standard does two things. First of all, they need to guarantee a certain level of quality or liability, a uniformity in order that the business can sustain and grow. But also it must be very quick in order to allow new innovation. In the past, the standard, let's say at IEC, you need to agree with 20 countries before you have a new document. I think now standards must be evolved much, much faster in order to allow new technologies to enter.

They really have a crucial role in order to make sure that between customer or manufacturer or user or service company or regulator, they all can talk to the same technical performance level. Without that, it will be extremely difficult to guarantee a secure supply chain as well as secure operation.


This is already on the radar since the '60s or the '50s. We had a plant in Canada, where we already make the big power transformers for the HVDC lines from the lakes in Canada, bringing the power into North America. But there, the technology is already known and there we talk about overhead lines, several thousands of megawatts and also thousands of voltages. This exists. It also exists for connecting grids in India or in the Middle East or in Brazil.

It's still challenging but, let's say, there's a business. Also their standards are working on it, such as Cigre standard of HVDC working group. What it new now is that we will use now more cables because we talk about onshore and difficult connections because of visual impact. Or offshore, we need to use cables. Of course, we will use cables. That is why you will have a different power flow. Because of the different power flow, therefore DC has more advantages, once you talk about distances more than 100 kilometers away. But everything below the range of 100 kilometers, AC is still much more cost effective.


Absolutely. It is a massive increase for the utility industry. We've estimated a 300 fold increase of data and that represents a high demand on the IT infrastructure to allow for real time decisioning, to allow for near time transaction processing. But in reality, it is only a fraction of the data we handle in other industries. If we look at the telecom industry, the data volumes are much larger than the maximum which we are expecting from utilities.

In the utility industry, the increase of data is significant. But compared to the telecom industry, it is relatively minimal. From an Oracle point of view, we cater and we handle telecom industry and telecom billing and telecom processing. Therefore our infrastructure is robust and scalable and performant to handle also the utility needs.

Today, I think also in the next five to ten years. It is also proven that the technology, we have a lot of players around the world. But if you talk about the vision of 2020 and further and if you want to use more and more cables, then the DC technology will be more cost effective for allowing this cable technology.

If you could have, let's say, overhead lines at sea, for example, then AC or conventional DC will still be much more cost effective because then you're talking about thousands of kilometers. For cables, this goes down to 100 kilometer.


It's really pretty harsh. First of all, we have a very harsh environmental condition which is posing a lot of stresses on the system, mechanical and chemical rust and moisture which equated to a lot failures in the very early wind farms.

Secondly, [inaudible 08:39] specifications or your performance of your products. It can be D&D products, substation can also be your wind turbine. Then you also have your operation and maintenance issues. One, for example, scheduled intervention on a wind farm in England and then we have a team stand by for ten people. Every morning they had to be there at 6:00 waiting, before the captain says, "No, too high waves. Come back at 2:00."

After ten days, it was October, we lost, really, a crew of ten days before we are able to fix anything offshore. But the wind turbines were turning, so there was no loss of energy. Then we decided through some technical experts, look can the wind turbines run for a complete winter, until springtime?

We said, yes, the wind turbines can run for the complete wintertime. Then, we just planned a new maintenance intervention in April and then everything runs smooth. So, the offshore environment is, indeed, imposing two big constraints. One is increased stresses or increased load, let's say, on your components. Secondly, your operation and maintenance strategy has to be completely different.

A small anecdote that I can talk, sometimes tell it, it's a kind of man on the moon project. I know that there was quite an issue with a component inside a wind turbine. One of the people from the design department called me and said, "All right, bring it back." I said, no, stop. The utility was really upset. It's just like if an astronaut would say, "Look I'm not feeling well." Then they say, "All right, just come back." You don't do this.

We just have to be smart and think how can I solve it remotely? What's the issue, what's the risk? You cannot just take your car and just be there in one hour, two hours, and try not to fix it. This is different compared to, let's say, conventional generation.


Yes, we think it is actively involved in our design, in our technology specifications, and in our discussions with our customer. For example, it should last for 20 years. You should be able not to have any intervention for five years or those components may not be changed for ten years.

Very simple things. For transformer on a high-speed train, the pump, if there's an issue, you can change it once the train is in the station for the night. Don't do it offshore. Although you talk about the 5MVA or 7MVA small substation, but you just have to think completely different in order to make your system more reliable.

This is, for me, also a kind of smartness you have to introduce next to the monitoring and the maintenance.


They are still top priority and then you add on the monitoring and the data in order to predict everything better and to integrate everything better.


We try to simulate as much as possible in a factory or we're making very special test conditions. Usually, we are, let's say, exceeding standards by far. For example, standards you would do a lot of electrical tests at 20 degrees and then you have a temperature test. In real life, it's working a combination of both. What's working at -40 or it has to work almost underwater.

What you do is, you try to simulate and test as much as possible once you have [inaudible 12:30]. Before you put it in, then otherwise you are in a completely different discussion and a completely different debate.


I've already attended all the IEEE conferences, also IEEE Smart Grids in India, and I must say that this conference is pretty good, extremely good. It has international origins. With international, I also mean from outside of Europe. So, it's really a world forum. Secondly, there's not so much commercial things. Everybody was really focusing on the issues and try to come up with effective figures and data and trends, which makes it to a high level of confidence, at least, and it makes it very interesting for all participants.

Thirdly, I think it has a unique opportunity to show that there's a very big uniformity in vision on smart grids and how we should move forward. DSOs, component manufacturers, IATs, generation companies, and even customer organizations, I think this here a unique opportunity that we can give this message, and I think we should take this message forward to the regulators or to the politicians, because the whole industry is now aligned and I think if you were to do this ten years ago, it would be different.

Renewable would be, to a certain extent, do we need it? No, we don't need it. We're sure that there's a problem. Now, everybody has bypassed that situation and now we know there's no problem. There's a big opportunity. Let's now take this opportunity. I think this is very clearly being expressed by all the delegates, and I think this is a nice summary about the conference and how we achieved to that level.


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