DEWA MD&CEO H.E. Saeed Al Tayer at the Inauguration (Center), with Frederic Abbal (Left) and Benoit Dubarle (Right) DEWA MD&CEO H.E. Saeed Al Tayer at the Inauguration (Center), with Frederic Abbal (Left) and Benoit Dubarle (Right)

DUBAI: IoT-powered smart cities that converge operational technology (OT) with information technology (IT) can provide energy optimization and improve citizen services through analytics, real-time data management and intelligence capabilities. Built around this concept, Schneider Electric’s fourth ‘Power to the Cloud’ was held recently at the Dubai Convention and Exhibition Centre as the largest regional event of its kind focused on smart cities. The latest edition has convened more than 2,000 industry visitors and around 200 VIPs from across the Middle East, Europe and Africa region.

Schneider Electric spotlighted its latest IoT-powered smart solutions through engaging simulations at a dedicated 5,000 square meter experiential zone. Among the solutions showcased include various elements of a smart city for homes, hotels, hospitals, educational institutions and utilities. As an additional highlight this year, senior company experts also discussed the strategic importance of Schneider Electric’s new ‘Life is ON’ brand strategy and its approach toward energy management through four pillars, namely connectivity, sustainability, efficiency and reliability and safety.

Kuwait Times spoke to Schneider Electric officials to learn more. Some excerpts:

Kuwait Times: What kind of businesses/sectors is SE involved in the Gulf?

Schneider Electric has been serving the Gulf region for over 35 years by providing integrated solutions in energy management making energy safe, reliable, efficient, productive and green. In the Gulf, Schneider Electric is mainly focused on six key market segments, which are utilities, oil and gas, water, healthcare, hotels datacenters and networks and ultimately smart cities. We have seen a 12 percent growth over the last three years, owing to the region’s move to increase energy efficiency.

Kuwait Times: What is SE’s 2016 outlook – is the market going to be challenging? How do you things will pan out? What are the key growth sectors for SE in 2016?

Our outlook for 2016 is positive, based on the previous years’ performance and our strong pipeline of projects. Schneider Electric is actively involved in supporting the region’s shift to smart energy solutions. Since the launch of our ‘Life is On’ strategy last year, Schneider Electric has adopted a new and unique approach to deliver energy management solutions. Our aim is to bring about a convergence of Information technology and operational technology, or in other words, the integration of energy, automation and software, in order to bring about energy efficiency. This applies across all sectors, and essentially guarantees that information is no longer compartmentalized, it is more transparent, and available for greater collaboration and optimum results.

In the Gulf, we see the opportunity to apply IT and OT integration in areas including solar, energy storage, micro-grids and smart grids, which are all very immediate growth sectors in the region.

Kuwait Times: Can you speak about the company’s regional outlook?

There is an urgent need for change in the way we perceive and understand energy needs in the region. As a company involved in enabling this transition, Schneider Electric is well-positioned to address the GCC’s unique energy challenges through our tried and tested innovative solutions for energy management. Schneider Electric is poised to continue the same growth momemtum as we identify new regional opportunities in the coming years. As we remain aligned with the Dubai’s government’s vision to become a smart city, we see the ‘Life is ON’ approach as a positive step towards creating an infrastructure which is greener, smarter and better connected.

Kuwait Times: What is the motivation behind Schneider Electric’s Power to the Cloud (PTTC) event?

Schneider Electric’s Power to the Cloud is built around the concept that IoT-powered smart cities that converge operational technology (OT) with information technology (IT) can provide energy optimization and improve citizen services through analytics, real-time data management and intelligence capabilities. The company’s flagship event now in its fourth year, PTTC is a smart-solutions-focused event which is the largest of its kind in the Middle East and Africa region. The event is an opportunity for Schneider Electric to display its latest IoT-powered smart solutions through engaging simulations that will be on display across a 5,000 square meter experiential zone.

Kuwait Times: How are governments in the GCC responding to the demands to become more energy efficient?

As the region pushes to diversify and reduce dependence on oil revenues, its governments are increasingly turning to technology to efficiently boost industrial capacities. According to the 2016 GCC Market Analysis Report by IRENA, regional energy consumption in the 2000s grew at an average of 5 percent per annum, faster than India, China and Brazil. As a result of this energy squeeze in the region, GCC nations are increasingly devising strategies to conserve natural resources, reduce energy consumption and diversify the energy mix to include renewables. This ties in with the innovation that drives Schneider Electric’s commitment in the region to help create greener, safer and interconnected spaces for local communities through our trusted solutions for energy management.

Kuwait Times: How are large corporations in the Middle East stepping up to the challenges of a resource-constrained 21st century?

Corporations in the Middle East, and globally, are being more proactive in dialogue related to energy challenges and sustainability. One of the main approaches to the challenges is education and awareness building. These platforms, supported by local governments, are welcoming millions of visitors who share invaluable know-how about making cities more efficient and friendly. Enterprises have always shown keen interest in powering more economic activity with lesser or inexpensive resources. They are increasingly engaging in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) which commits to addressing key issues on non-renewable resources and their utilization.

Collaborations between all sectors are helping corporations respond to the world’s challenges. For instance, Schneider Electric played a key role in Abu Dhabi Municipality’s Energy Efficiency Programme which began in 2011 as a sector level pilot project. In 2014, the initiative entered its second phase under ‘City-wide Level Scale Up Deployment’.

Kuwait Times: How can smart solutions help save energy?

Schneider Electric has many smart solutions that help create the cities of the future. Its integrated ‘Smart City’ solutions from Smart Energy, Smart Mobility, Smart Water, Smart Public Services, and Smart Integration help in various aspects of traffic and parking, safety, lighting, waste management, and energy management. These solutions no longer operate in silos, instead integrate seamlessly and run cohesively enabling clients to save up to 30 per cent in energy consumption, including a 15 per cent reduction in water use. It is easier for governments to pass on its energy savings to its citizens so the end benefit is always for individuals and residents.

Kuwait Times: What are the opportunities and challenges for smarter energy systems in the GCC region?

Cities in the GCC region are on the fast-track to becoming smart cities. These developments will be largely based on efficient building systems, infrastructure networks and ICT solutions; this is where Schneider Electric, a global leader in energy management and a pioneer in ‘smart city’ solutions- comes in.

In Doha, Qatar- there are a number of mega projects in the pipeline - in line with the country’s National Vision 2030. The value of such infrastructure projects is expected to reach around $205 billion between 2013 and 2018. The GCC presents Schneider Electric with an abundance of growing opportunities to reiterate their market leadership in smart infrastructure, energy efficiency, datacenter technology and mobility solutions. Governments and private sector enterprises are welcoming Schneider Electric’s global expertise, highly valued R&D and decades of experience in order to achieve the next step of development and urban efficiency across the GCC.

Kuwait Times: How are cities in this region in an advantageous position to become smart cities?

The cities successfully making the transition to ‘smart’ will be those who improve their critical systems by combining a bottom-up, systems-centric approach with a top-down, data-centric one. These cities are focusing on six key pillars; transport, communications, infrastructure, electricity, economic services and urban planning. The vision of the leadership in these cities has been crucial to the success of these initiatives along with the support garnered from the business community, citizens and residents.

Power to the Cloud

In his inaugural address, Saeed Al-Tayer, Managing Director and CEO, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) said: “This year’s Power to the Cloud comes at a time of rapid infrastructure transformation and economic change. As we strive to become smarter and more connected than ever before, we need to learn to leverage technologies that are eco-friendly. Today, the convergence of Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) makes it possible to increase process efficiency and optimise scarce resources. This ties in with the UAE Government’s Vision 2021 launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, which emphasises the importance of sustainable development and the preservation of the environment.”

The event was also attended by Dr Rashid Al-Leem, Chairman of Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority (SEWA) and Matar Al-Neyadi, Undersecretary of the UAE Ministry of Energy. Over the course of the two-day event, senior Schneider Electric experts headlined thought sessions on energy efficiency and highlighted the latest in technology trends. In addition, key industry experts and customers including Etisalat, DEWA, Al Futtaim, Movenpick Group, Starwood Hotels and Resorts and Abu Dhabi Airports led panel discussions and shed light on Schneider Electric’s value-add to their respective businesses.

Frederic Abbal, Executive Vice-President of Energy Business, Schneider Electric, said: “It is important to create enriching community spaces for inhabitants through digital connection, technologies to simplify life and automation to streamline the businesses. These communities, which collectively form cities, need to be tied together with infrastructure that can accommodate the massively growing populations and their evolving expectations. Power to the Cloud, now in its fourth year, has greatly developed since its inception in 2012 and illustrates the progress Dubai is making on its evolution into a smart city. Through this educational platform, we hope to bring to light the technologies that will positively impact our living spaces and their environment.”