EATON INTERVIEW: “Networking at African Utility Week is an investment in our business”

1) Let’s start with some background on Eaton, there is a proud history there.
Eaton is a global technology leader in diversified power management solutions that make electrical, hydraulic and mechanical power operate more efficiently, effectively, safely and sustainably. Eaton is the only company providing cross-business solutions in key industry segments critical to Africa’s growth. We are positioned by way of our global solutions to help solve today’s most critical electrical power management challenges. 

The company has been operational in Africa for 89 years, and during this time, we've progressed from a small truck parts supplier to a multinational industrial providing customers with a long history of experience under the Eaton name.  At Eaton, we know that power is a fundamental part of just about everything people do. That’s why we’re dedicated to improving people’s lives and the environment with power management technologies that are more reliable, efficient, safe and sustainable. Because that’s what really matters. And we make what matters work!

2)      What Eaton projects in the energy and utility space are you most excited about currently?
Eaton is a recognised leader in providing generation, transmission and distribution solutions for the utility segment.  Our highly advanced and sector-specific solutions integrate the latest technology with high quality products including switchgear, pre-fabricated switchgear houses and motor controls. We offer real bottom-line benefits to owners of generation assets, transmission and distribution operators, OEMs and energy retailers. We’re also using innovation to make a real and sustainable difference in the delivery of power. Our MV to LV switchgear, for example, offers a reduction in greenhouse gases thanks to the SF6-free design. 2017 and beyond look to be exciting times for Eaton as we are working with the largest utility company in SA and with local municipalities to provide utility and storage solutions for future roll out. 

In the renewable energy space we are currently in partnership with automotive manufacturer, Nissan, which aims to combine Nissan and Eaton's expertise in lithium-ion batteries and power electronics; the objective is to introduce cost-competitive second-life energy storage and control technologies to the market. Through the partnership, we have introduced xStorage, a stationary energy storage and control centre technology used either in the home, in commercial buildings or industrial sites. xStorage is a fully integrated and industrialised energy storage system used to enable consumers to manage peak power demand, manage off grid situations and to manage black outs by integrating renewable energy directly into the home power supply system or in a commercial facility. 

The storage device gives the consumer complete control of how they can use stored energy, helping them improve the usage of renewable energy, while providing backup supply and continuity during power fluctuations. A great example of xStorage implementation can be seen in our recent announcement coming out of our UK office - Eaton is Manchester City’s new official home energy storage partner. The club has signed a multi-year deal with Eaton, which builds on its commitment to leading the way in sustainability. You can view the full announcement here: https://www.mancity.com/news/club-news/2017/05/04/manchester-city-partner-eaton/1493892029775 

3)      Where in Africa are you focusing for business?
We have seven offices on the continent with two regional manufacturing and service hubs in South Africa and Morocco. We offer a broad portfolio of supplemented “made for Africa” products and services that are supported by 900 Eaton employees, complimented by 100 PQ and PD distributors throughout Africa, allowing us to service our customers to a world-class level.

4)      What in your view are the main challenges in the sector on the continent?
The Energy Sector in Africa is so diverse with each region facing unique challenges and opportunities. However the overarching narrative for most is that regulatory structures are complicated and difficult to navigate, expanding access to the grid for rural areas is costly and would take a long time.  This too presents great opportunities for renewable energy sources and the most promising of which are off-grid solar and mini grids. 

5)      What will Eaton’s contribution be to African Utility Week and what will be your message at the event?
We are so excited to participate at this year’s Africa Utility Week and for the first time we are sponsoring the conference.  I will host a CEO Forum that facilitates solutions based dialogue amongst key influences in the industry.  Furthermore, we are sponsoring the Outstanding Woman of the Year : Power /Water Award and will host a sponsored site visit for customers on the 19th May 2017.  Our industry expert will take approximately 20 customers on a tour to a site in Cape Town, to experience a first-hand view of Eaton‘s solutions. 

6)      How important is African Utility Week for industry networking?
Networking is an investment in our business. Africa Utility Week provides a platform for hundreds of energy players to meet and establish relationships.  In my view, this is one of the most important investments that any business can make.