Addressing infrastructure pressures in Asia-Pacific

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We’re excited for Itron Utility Week to make its debut in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region on April 21 and 22, 2021, writes Itron’s Vice President for Customer and Market Experience in APAC, Paul Nelson. Itron’s flagship event for customers and partners is focused on giving utilities, cities and thought leaders the opportunity to discover new ways to solve problems, improve operations and redefine the industry in APAC.

From the rise of urbanisation to the increased need for water management and decarbonisation, utilities, municipalities and cities in APAC face a wide variety of challenges and opportunities. We’ll address these and more at IUW APAC.  

The rise of urbanisation

Nearly half of the 4.6 billion people in APAC currently live in cities, and by 2050 the population of Asia’s cities will be over 3.5 billion. As the region’s cities absorb over 40 million people a year, keeping them sustainable, livable places with adequate infrastructure is a key focus.  It’s not just about building the right infrastructure, but also making sure that the infrastructure can be properly managed for the good of the community, with sustainable environmental impact. This requires a smarter approach to urban development.

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Working with smart city leaders in APAC and around the world, smart streetlights prove to be an ideal foundation for smart city initiatives. Providing dramatic energy savings, intelligent streetlights are enabling cities and utilities to unlock efficiencies while building a foundational network to be used by other smart city applications.

Water management

The Asia-Pacific region has over half of the world’s population, yet less than 35% of the world’s freshwater. As populations grow and migrate to increasingly dense urban centers, and climate change exacerbates already stressed water systems, the need to carefully manage every precious drop is key to ensuring that people have access to water now and in the future.  As cities and utilities build new infrastructure to expand access to piped water, there is a clear emphasis on ensuring that as little water as possible is lost between the pumping stations and the end-user. The focus is the same in developing countries building entirely new infrastructure or developed regions where aging infrastructure must be managed carefully. Utilities across the region are implementing systems to help them locate leaks in buried pipes and support customers in reducing consumption, all in an effort to ensure access to clean water.

Reducing carbon footprint

From developing countries deploying new infrastructure to serve surging demand, to developed nations targeting a zero-carbon future, the push toward decarbonization of our energy supply is driving transformational thinking about energy infrastructure. Some concepts are simple, like the injection of hydrogen into the gas supply. Others are far more complicated, as the growth of rooftop solar reverses the traditional power flows and threatens the stability of the low-voltage power grid, pushing the need for real-time monitoring and decision making to manage power flows in residential neighborhoods.

Ultimately, this is driving new thinking about how energy infrastructure needs to be managed. First, the required monitoring of power flows at the medium and low voltage level, then the integration of other technologies, like batteries, to help modulate the intermittent nature of renewable generation.

The automation transformation

What all of these challenges have in common is that the key to managing them is a transformation in the way we think about and manage our infrastructure. Understanding and optimising behaviors beyond where we have traditionally been able to manage and control is critical. New technologies provide better visibility and control of what is happening at the edge of our infrastructure, allowing utilities and cities to solve problems and manage rapidly changing conditions in real-time. Whether it is a slowly leaking pipe buried underground, or a solar panel that sits behind a customer meter, we now have the ability to understand and react to things happening at the edges of our networks.

We’re excited to have a number of utilities sharing their experience in starting and mastering this transformation at Itron Utility Week APAC. 

To keep up with live updates throughout the conference, follow Itron and #IUWAPAC on social media. There is no charge to attend and event registration is now open for Itron customers, prospects and partners. For more information about Itron Utility Week APAC: Empowering Innovation, visit www.itron.com/iuwapac.

About the author

Paul Nelsen

Paul Nelsen

Vice President, Customer and Market Experience in APAC – Itron. As Vice President of Customer and Market Experience for Asia Pacific, Paul is responsible for sales and marketing of Itron’s portfolio throughout the Asia Pacific region. Leveraging on more than two decades of experience in the energy industry, Paul is leading Itron’s growth in the areas of Software and Services, smart cities, renewables and the Internet of Things (IoT).

In his 15 years with Itron, Paul has held senior roles in R&D, Sales, and Marketing related to Smart Metering and Smart Grid. He has been instrumental in many key projects that have advanced the state of the art in Meter Data Management and AMI. Paul has been working in the Asia Pacific region since 2005.

Paul holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and an MBA in Technology Commercialization from North Carolina State University, and is a Professional Engineer.