Energy management specialist Schneider Electric announced the launch of its Ecofit switchgear retrofit solution and the Actassi networking and connectivity solution, in August, last year.
Further, it reports that it is currently supplying specialised solar panels to projects falling under South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Pro-curement Programme (REIPPPP).
Schneider Electric South Africa business development manager Riaan Herbst explains that all these products are focused on being ecological and economical.
Herbst explains that environmental responsibility lies at the core of Schneider Electric culture and strategy. “We strive to reduce the environmental impact of our products throughout their entire life cycle, particularly through ecodesign and ecoproduction,” he says.
“Eight years ago, the European Union enacted an Energy using Products (EuP) framework directive, which is a directive on the ecodesign of products. It looks to promote ecodesign approaches in priority sectors, or even to specify the aims of impacts for some products,” he explains.
Although Schneider Electric’s supply is outside the EuP target, it generalises the ecodesign approach to all its developmental activities and undertakes to communicate the environmental features of its products through product environmental programmes.
To ensure transparency and the validity of the data, the company complies with ISO 14025 in an interprofessional programme, which sets shared calculation and drafting rules for publishing the environmental impacts of its products.
Schneider Electric’s Ecofit, which is a switchgear retrofit solution, enables users to reduce mainte- nance and replace old technology. Through this offering, Schneider Electric can swap out a client’s circuit breaker and protection relays, or provide an extension panel to an existing installation, all with minimal downtime, explains Schneider Electric South Africa services manager Roland Bartle.
According to Bartle, Ecofit has already been adopted by more than 1 000 companies worldwide, which are completely confident in the efficiency, safety and currency of their systems.
Benefits of the Ecofit, include significantly prolonging the effective lifetime of switchgear; enhanced availability and operational reliability by reducing the risk of failure; the fact that out-age required to complete a retrofit is much shorter in duration than that required to replace a switchboard; and eliminating the necessity to remove the old switchboard – particularly key when access may mean this is difficult to achieve.
Further benefits to the user are maintaining compliance with evolving industry standards and legislation; phased modernisation of an installation, which increases budgetary and operational flexibility; and ensuring the ongoing safety of personnel and surrounding equipment by using the latest technology, says Bartle.
Moreover, Ecofit also gives “new life” to installations by enabling customers’ C801 to C1251 N/H low voltage switchboards to be retrofitted with the company’s Compact C solution to the latest Compact NS version of circuit breakers.
“To counter rising energy costs and cut greenhouse-gas emissions, we must all find new ways to reduce energy consumption. Distributed energy metering is a critical first step. It will help companies understand exactly where, when and how much energy is consumed throughout their facilities, revealing valuable opportunities to improve energy efficiency,” he adds.
Specialised Photovoltaic Equipment
Meanwhile, the company reports that it is not only supplying the first 20 MWs of photovoltaic (PV) equipment to the REIPPPP, but also providing its solar control system (heliostat tracking) and supervisory control and data acquisition systems to two South Africa-based concentrated solar power plants under construction, as well as large quantities of its electric components into many other round one and two projects of the REIPPPP, says Schneider Electric South Africa solar business manager James Shirley.
Further, the company was recently distinguished as one of the top three most competitively positioned PV inverter companies by market analyser Greentech Media Research. Owing to its unique footprint in South Africa, Schneider Electric is able to comply with 45% of the local content requirements of renewable energy bids under round one.
“Most of the equipment delivered to those projects will be integrated or manufactured in South Africa. Schneider Electric will provide a PV box, a factory integrated, tested and validated plug and play power con- version system that contains a direct current combiner box, inverters, step-up transformer, medium voltage switchgear and other accessories. We will also ensure that it is adapted to meet the local standards and environmental conditions,” says Shirley.
He adds that, in addition to launching its new range of solar products and complete electrical packages for rooftop installations ranging from 2 kW to 1 MW, the company is increasing its manufacturing arm in South Africa.
“As a key partner in the development of solar energy for South Africa, Schneider Electric intends to offer a local content com- pliance of 60% for its PV offering, including inverters, array boxes and monitoring and control systems,” says Shirley.
Schneider Electric’s Actassi networking and connectivity infrastructure solutions are for buildings and data centres, which include enclosures, patch panels, cables and connectors. All are easily integrated with its products to improve network accessibility,” says Herbst.
Actassi consists of connectors for category 5e, category 6 and category 6A cable performance; cross-connect panels; copper and fibre-optic local area network (LAN) cables; patch cords and connecting hardware telecommunication enclosures.
“All products are designed to increase usability and performance, such as the new one-piece RJ45 connectors, the Actassi S-One. The connectors exceed the most advanced international standards, such as ISO/IEC 11801 and 2:2010. All S-One connectors are manufactured to provide exceptional category 5e, category 6 and category 6A cable performance for shielded and unshielded data networks. It is also fully integrated with a wide range of Schneider Electric products, such as wiring devices and installation systems including trunking, poles, posts and floor boxes,” says Herbst.
He explains that Actassi’s main benefit is that it offers seamless end-to-end network connectivity, highlighting that it is a comprehensive product offer encompassing copper and fibre-optic connectors, copper and fibre LAN cables and patch cords, cross-connect panels, networking and telecommunication enclosures.
“It also offers increased usability, as it is easy to specify, easy to install, easy to use and easy to upgrade,” he says.
Further, it is future-proof, which means that customers have no problems with retrofitting. Importantly, its performance exceeds international standards, adds Herbst.
He highlights that Actassi is built on intuitive installation technology, making the likelihood of failure low. It also holds independent laboratory verification and certification for compliance and performance and it has a global warranty programme.
As a result, Actassi is compliant with Restriction of Hazardous Substances, the REACH European directives and Product Environmental Profile Eco passport.