Enel plays a fundamental role in the energy transition process, from a centralized to a distributed business model. Smart grids, distributed energy systems and the demand response service allow a high degree of flexibility in the management of network peaks and a better integration of renewable energies, generating virtuous synergies between Enel’s various businesses and making the grid a key element. The power grid therefore enables numerous services, not only in the continuous process of digitalization, but also thanks to its quality, efficiency, reach and widespread coverage.
The Enel Distribuição Goiás (formerly CELG-D) distribution company in Brazil was acquired in 2017, further increasing the number of customers. In March 2018, almost a year after the acquisition, the company launched a new logo, reflecting a long process of improving the company’s safety, efficiency and quality standards. This ambitious program aims to extend, modernize and digitize Enel Distribuição Goiás’ network, in a country with a predominantly rural economy, over a vast area where many people still have no access to energy.
The continuous improvement of the network assumes a core role in the economic and social development of communities, as well as for the daily life of citizens, fully in line with the commitments to the United Nations 2030 Agenda Sustainable Development Goals (“SDGs”) and with Enel’s Creating Shared Value policy.
Colombia: the Nueva Esperanza project
The Nueva Esperanza project, south of Bogotá, Colombia, is part of the plan to expand the power grid in order to meet growing energy demand in the area. The construction of the Nueva Esperanza primary substation (installed capacity of 450 MVA) and its three power line corridors posed a major sustainability challenge in view of the protection of local biodiversity and important archaeological discoveries during the construction phase.
Efforts to protect local flora and fauna led, among other things, to the identification, rescue and transfer of about 3,000 plants in the area directly affected by the project (Bosque Renace). Employees, students and representatives of the local community took part in this process, and specific environmental education initiatives took place. A survey was carried out on the Choloepus hoffmanni(“two-toed sloth”), which is present on the site./p>
A large team undertook the recovery of archaeological remains, consisting of about 200 anthropologists, bio-anthropologists, field assistants, and administrative and logistics staff. Human remains and objects dating back to an ancient settlement of the Herrera and Muisca periods (400 BC) were found, up to the Hispanic domination of the 16th century. Enel provided support for the construction of the Archaeological Exhibition Hall of Nueva Esperanza, located in the Municipality of Soacha and inaugurated on February 20, 2018, to house some of the unearthed materials.
It’s Enel’s responsibility to ensure a continuous and safe supply of energy to the national electricity systems of the countries in which it operates as distributor. The quality of the supply is closely linked to the reliability and efficiency of the transmission and distribution infrastructure, which must be able to meet the required demand levels. In coordination with the other parties that in various ways operate on network infrastructures, Enel works continuously to develop and improve the efficiency of the distribution network. In all countries, Enel carries out network maintenance and modernization on the existing infrastructure, aimed primarily at reducing the number and duration of service interruptions. The work can involve changing the network structure, replacing technically inadequate line components, increasing the degree of self-control of the network through automation, and carrying out remote work on secondary substations. Regarding ‘commercial’ losses, the digitalization of the network and the use of the “Remote Operator” system – combined with the use of smart meters – allow greater effectiveness in checking power usage, while also reducing fraud.
The digitalization of the network and the dissemination and application of processes, technologies and procedures in the different countries where Enel operates are essential elements. A platform model based on 3 pillars:
- “disruptive” efficiency: increasing efficiency levels through the digitalization of all the main processes of both Enel and its supply chain;
- “data-driven” network: through network automation, remote control systems, IoT (Internet of Things), machine learning and cognitive computing systems, a large amount of data can be leveraged and deployed in predictive maintenance systems, to improve network stability and service quality;
- “end user experience”: this is mainly pursued through the use of new electronic meters (smart meters), but also through the initial application of new work platforms, Blockchain and digital applications to improve service performance for customers.
Thanks to innovative digital technologies, it is possible to monitor the entire network and act quickly to resolve outages and ensure an optimal supply of energy. Remote control systems are essential for the operation of the distribution networks, allowing local operating centers to carry out all the operations necessary to ensure the continuity of the electrical service.
In this constantly evolving system, customers take a central role thanks to electronic tools that make consumption transparent, encouraging active participation in the energy market and promoting an efficient use of energy.
In 2017, the spread of smart meters continued in the Group countries, particularly in Romania, Iberia, Chile and Brazil. The smart meter is now available for more than 43 million users, an increase of about 6% compared to 2016. The 2018-2020 Strategic Plan envisages the installation of approximately 20 million meters in the next three years and 4.3 billion euro in investments for the digitalization of assets.
Skills and innovative technologies also enable the development of smart cities by combining environmental protection, energy efficiency and economic sustainability in a single urban model. In a very similar way, the platform can support the evolution of production process models of complex groupings (industrial districts, etc.) in the transition to the circular economy.
In Spain, during 2017, the Smart City Málaga Living Lab project obtained certification from the European Network of Living Labs (ENoLL), thus becoming the space in which to manage projects that touch all areas of smart grid technology.
The Living Lab in Savona, the city of the future
The challenge of the coming years is to satisfy the growing demand for energy through sustainable development, while respecting the environment and through technological innovation. Enel is working on this exact field at the Savona campus of the University of Genoa, creating the “Living Lab Microgrid”.
Housed in a former barracks from the 1930s, with an area of 55 thousand square meters and approximately 2 thousand people, mostly students, living there daily, the campus is a small urban district of Savona. With power storage systems and energy production from renewable sources, all the campus buildings are connected and at its center there is the Smart Energy Building (SEB). This is the first example in Italy of a totally self-sufficient building connected to a smart grid with zero carbon dioxide emissions. The building is insulated from a thermal and acoustic point of view and is equipped with high-efficiency lighting systems connected solely to the university microgrid.
The energy is supplied by a photovoltaic system and a geothermal heat pump heating unit, and, to a lesser extent, by the U-Gym digital gym, which reconverts the movement produced on the exercise bikes and ellipticals.
The Savona Living Lab enables us to test new technologies, combining Enel’s global experience and industrial scale with the University of Genoa’s research and innovation. The campus has been included in the International Sustainable Campus Network, a network of 84 world universities recognized for their excellence in the sustainability field.
Enel is interested in knowing the opinions of its stakeholders regarding the services it offers and carries out surveys to measure their satisfaction. Specific communication channels are in place in the various countries where it operates, also in line with the provisions of standards and regulations. In Italy, for example, a call center and innovative services are in place, increasing the ability to respond and provide faster and more detailed information to customers.
In addition to the call center, the e-Notify service got underway in December 2017. e-Notify sends communications and notices e-distribuzione customers who want to know, for example, of any works planned in their area. The new chatbot also launched in February 2018: Eddie, a virtual assistant designed to inform and communicate with customers. For more information on innovation and digitalization projects, refer to the relevant chapters “Technologies and Innovability” and “Digital-e”