Bernard Salha, was appointed Senior Executive Vice President of EDF Group, President of EDF Research and Development (EDF R&D) in spring 2010. With more than 2000 researchers, EDF R&D covers all the Group's activities, upstream in the field of generation (nuclear, thermal, hydro and renewable), and downstream in the fields of transport and distribution grids, energy management and customer relationship and management.
He was previously, since early 2005, Director of the Nuclear Engineering Division (DIN), after having held various senior positions in engineering units at EDF. He participated to the China's Nuclear Power Program (LingAo I) for 3 years in China. He started his career at the French Ministry of Defence.
Bernard Salha is a graduate of the French Ecole Polytechnique, the foremost engineering school in France, and a Chief Engineer of Ponts et Chaussées.
1. What is EDF’s outlook for energy in Asia and how is this impacting its growth in the region?
EDF is supporting the development of Asia and is aiming to meet the region’s growing energy needs. As part of this, the Group is involved in long-term projects, which reflect a spirit of co-operation and partnership, and a commitment to EDF’s environmental and social values.
Present in the region for more than 30 years, EDF Group is investing in low-carbon power generation projects. Examples include European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) nuclear reactors in China and hydropower in Lao PDR. We are also involved in projects that provide the region with access to state-of-the-art technology, as well as promote our industrial expertise – especially in power generation.
In China, India, Indonesia, and potentially Vietnam, EDF Group intends to further develop its activities in partnership with major companies in renewable energies, power grids and energy services for urban and industrial uses.
As part of our ambition to support cities undergoing the energy transition, EDF Group provides tailored and low consumption smart solutions that favour local renewable resources and promote energy efficiency.
2. What are the implications of digitalisation for the region’s energy transition?
Digitalisation and Big Data will affect all of our processes and activities throughout the production chain, from the design, monitoring and maintenance of our production facilities to new customer services – not to mention the grids, which will have to be flexible enough to deal with the co-existence of centralised electricity systems and ultra-decentralised renewable energy systems.
EDF will be generating a large amount of data with the rollout of the Linky smart meters (35 million meters by 2020) in France. This represents a huge step forward in anticipation of the data revolution. EDF Labs started selecting and deploying new data infrastructure (data lakes) a few years ago. This will influence the development of R&D in the region and we will be following the local trend.
In Singapore, our focus is on sustainable and smart cities. We have developed a 3D simulation platform dealing with different types of data defining the urban context. This platform integrates all the data (e.g. 3D, parametres of urban objects, scenario inputs, etc.) to run complex simulations and forecast evolutions of key performance indicators.
3. As the world moves towards more smart cities, what is EDF’s role in this transition?
The growing energy needs of cities must be addressed. Today, cities account for 80% of global GDP and 75% of primary energy demand, and both are still growing. We cannot stop this growth, but we can manage the challenges it brings.
EDF is supporting cities in addressing their energy challenges and improving the quality of life for inhabitants. Energy is at the core of urban issues because it is linked to all the other sectors, such as transportation, water, waste, etc. This is why EDF has developed an 3D platform that integrates all its R&D expertise to help decision makers improve the sustainability of cities. This EDF City Platform was first implemented in Singapore with the Housing Development Board (HDB). We are now launching a second phase of development for HDB to improve the quality of life in the residential districts of Singapore.
4. Can you tell us more about EDF R&D’s activities and perspectives in Singapore / in Southeast Asia?
EDF created its Asian Sustainable Cities Center of Excellence in Singapore in 2014. EDF Lab Singapore covers many innovative fields of R&D, including cutting edge solutions for smart cities, decentralised energy systems and simulation. The purpose of this Center of Excellence is to develop collaborations with the city-state, as well as with other cities in Southeast Asia.
EDF is also involved in the Renewable Energy Integration Demonstrator – Singapore (REIDS) project that was launched at SIEW 2017. This will be the largest hybrid microgrid test and research platform in the tropics. As part of this, EDF will leverage on its strong micro-grid expertise to develop new projects adapted to the Southeast Asian region.
5. What are your thoughts on the SIEW 2017 theme “Rethinking Energy; Navigating Change”?
This is well aligned with the major challenges that I referred to earlier. What better place than Singapore, the vanguard when it comes to sustainable cities, to address these new energy realities that lie at the heart of tomorrow’s cities. Our energy sector has entered a new era of tremendous changes and EDF wants to play a major role in the revolution to come.