To be a leader in the global energy transition, a model has been developed that envisages investments in grids that make it possible to integrate distributed generation and the participation of demand in energy markets, as well as the digitalization of both renewable and conventional plants, improving technical and operational performance.
At the same time the digitalization of sales channels plays a key role in improving relations and quality of service and in the ability to meet the demands of increasingly connected and demanding customers.
This change also involves a more agile- based work approach for people, aimed at encouraging greater positive and constructive interaction between the various organizational areas.
Enel’s digital transformation aims to develop along three main lines: assets, customers and people, using the cloud, platforms and cyber security as enablers.
The main projects and initiatives are shown below.
The guidelines and the enabling factors
One of the building blocks of the Digital Plant project is the connectivity and the ability for distributed intelligent sensors to communicate effectively, in real time, from any part of the plant wirelessly.
Thanks to the adoption of IoT systems, the various components of the plant communicate data and access information, thus providing a digital fingerprint of the plant that allows its operations to be monitored and optimized. At the Global Thermal Generation plants, in Italy in Torrevaldaliga Nord and in Spain in Besós, a high-coverage communication network for the transmission of data sent by innovative temperature and humidity sensors was installed. The results obtained have confirmed the validity of one of the most innovative communication technologies supporting the IoT, and this will allow evaluating a possible extension to other plants.
Machine learning and predictive analysis
IT tools and machine learning techniques have been adopted and promoted, enabling predictive analyses to be carried out for the maintenance of the electricity distribution network and the components of power generation plants, identifying in advance any critical issues detected during equipment operation, thus preventing failures. This has allowed the quality of service to be improved, making it more sustainable over time, and has improved use of internal resources and increased safety at work, by concentrating the inspections on the equipment most exposed to the risk of failure.
Work is underway to further develop storage system management software to further optimize simultaneous use for multiple applications and markets; the aim is to maximize the use of the battery asset and consequently optimize the returns on investment, with a nod to circular economy as well.
Enel has launched the Digitaly project, which has made it possible to analyze the main processes of e-distribuzione, the Enel company that oversees distribution in Italy, to identify the possibility of applying new technologies and operational simplifications. One of such initiatives includes digital image recognition, which uses an advanced algorithm to analyze a photo recognizing certain characteristics, thus making it possible to remotely monitor the distribution network through, for example, the use of drones. Another example is natural language understanding, a system that allows devices to understand natural language, not only with the ability to write what is said on a computer and to respond using words, but also to understand the context. From February 2018, the new chatbot, “Eddie”, is now available on the e-distribuzione site. This virtual assistant is designed to inform customers about any interruptions or disruptions due to scheduled maintenance or to provide indications on the times and methods for the disbursement of compensation and more.
Enel has also begun developing connected devices aimed at monitoring domestic energy consumption and reducing it, where possible. Many initiatives have been launched and further developed in the area of electronic invoicing; they include the Bolletta Web project in Italy, as well as the One Billing project in Spain. In this way it has been possible to achieve the objectives set by the Strategic Plan for greater digitalization for customers. For more information, see the “Customer focus” chapter.
A process of transformation must revolve around people, and their needs must be satisfied. A process of digital transformation was therefore started for the people working at Enel, a new way of rethinking business processes based on the experience of working for the Company, following an integrated mindset focused on services and making the most of new opportunities offered by digital technology. The project aims to improve digital skills and the engagement of people in the provision of products and services, in a more integrated and intuitive way. For more information see the “Our people and their value” chapter.
The contribution of shared IT services to decarbonization
A printing service has been operating in all Enel offices for some time now. In addition to using new-generation printer models designed for more environmentally friendly use, the service was conceived on an advanced business model that has allowed Enel to evolve from the concept of product to that of service. The unique aspects of this service, together with a more rational use of printed documents, has led to a reduction in paper consumption over the years and consequently a lower impact on the environment. In particular, based on the number of printed pages and the printers’ technical specifications, the quantity of CO2 associated with the electrical consumption of printers while printing is calculated monthly by applying each country’s emission coefficient (data source: Enerdata), which considers the specific mix of energy sources present1.
PC Power Management - Italy
In 2017, electricity consumption outside normal working hours2 continued to be monitored. This pertained to the IT workstations (desktops, laptops, monitors) of Enel’s people working in Italy. This measurement is possible thanks to a Microsoft3 feature available on the workstations which made it possible to identify when they were turned on and not used. Following the analyses carried out, specific awareness actions have been defined aimed at mitigating electricity consumption.
In 2017, the computer stations in the various Group countries were brought back to the same configuration platform, making more extensive reporting possible from 2018 onwards.
In 2017, the cloud-based video communication service (Blue Jeans) used internet connectivity to share content and was even accessible on the move, from one’s personal computer, smartphone or tablet. This made it possible to save on travel and business trips by reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
In 2017, 40,758 meetings were held using this service (26,805 in 2016), avoiding 284,172,487 km (181,594,130 km in 2016) of air travel and 2,508,607 km (1,812,737 km in 2016) by car, saving the emission of 32,783 tCO2 (20,779 tCO2 n 2016).
[Data source: Blue Jeans]
(1) Accessed from Enerdata on May 16, 2017. It considers data in the following areas: Italy, Spain, Russia, Romania, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Colombia.
(2) Monday-Friday (from 7pm to 7am); Saturday and Sunday. The monitoring excluded servers and personal computers that, by their nature, must always remain on (for example, GESI application, Enel Points, Power Exchange, etc.). Specifically, the indicator represents the amount of CO2 associated with the electrical consumption of desktops, laptops and monitors, to which the average CO2 emission value is then applied per unit of electricity produced (gCO2/kWh) relative to the mix of sources in Italy.
(3) System Center Configuration Manager.
During 2017, the cloud was a fundamental strategic enabler for Enel, allowing the use of both infrastructure and app-type resources when required, by making full use of the access possibilities offered by the network, thus allowing the wastefulness reduction related to the consumption of unused resources. The AWS (Amazon Web Services) cloud that Enel uses requires an average use of about 16% of the energy required by a traditional on-premise infrastructure, allowing for an average reduction in CO2 emissions of about 88%. It is housed in green data processing centers that are powered by more than 40% renewable energy.
New information can develop from the interaction with data that are managed separately; for example, energy generation and market data. At Enel, the environment that enables this interaction is the Amazon Web Services IoT platform, which gathers applications that interact with objects spread all over the world, from temperature sensors in plants to electronic meters in homes. The interface of communication with people is Salesforce, a platform that enables interaction via voice, PC or smartphone. It is therefore a cloud-based IoT platform that is scalable, modular, open and applicable to different contexts (residential, industrial, etc.), perfectly covering every possible IoT pillar: from Industry 4.0 to smart building, from smart home to e-mobility and so on. The IoT platform enables easy development and integration of applications for different sectors: energy efficiency (construction, cities, industry, home), social applications (health monitoring, safety) and sustainable transport (electric vehicle charging). An example applicable to buildings and industries is EIS (Energy Intelligence Software), which allows for energy consumption as well as all the commodities involved in the production/life cycle to be constantly monitored, and to check if there are any anomalies in consumption and then correct them. Thanks to intelligent algorithms and predictive technologies, EIS offers customers the possibility of reducing their energy costs by automatically suggesting changes to behaviors and processes and identifying areas of efficiency.
There are also two innovative IoT platforms:
- JuiceNet, for the intelligent management of charging electric vehicles and other distributed storage systems. The platform allows remote control and aggregation of unidirectional and bidirectional electricity flows (vehicle-to-grid, V2G) for grid balancing. The acquisition of eMotor- Werks marks Enel’s entry into the US electric mobility market, one of the largest in the world;
- Demand Response, a platform that allows the aggregation of consumption and/or generation resources (Demand Response/Virtual Power Plants) to provide capacity or balancing services to the electricity system, thus generating value for asset owners and increasing the efficiency of the entire system.
Unified Virtual Data Lake
The analysis of the available information and data can change the way of working and creating value, allowing better decision making. Enel has an enormous amount of data, and managing and leveraging it better can help make new investment choices and streamline plant maintenance and operation, by facilitating preventive actions, reducing costs, etc.
Enel aspires to be a data-driven company and during 2017 it launched a number of measures aimed at improving data governance and creating a data lake, which is a unified architecture that simplifies and enhances the archiving, management and analysis of information, using data from diversified and non-homogenous sources. In December 2017, following a test phase, the Unified Virtual Data Lake and specific training activities were launched.
In an increasingly connected and interdependent world, digital applications and services can no longer arise simply from work, information and services held by a single party. Different parties must be able to interact in a flexible and simple way, within modern, digital multi-stakeholder ecosystems.
In this context, an API (Application Programming Interface) is an interface made available by one computer system that can be retrieved by another computer system directly, thus creating a direct and totally ‘automatic’ interaction between two or more digital applications.
The e-API Ecosystem is based on the interoperability between computer systems that operate autonomously within the same digital ecosystem. In this context, in 2017 Enel developed solutions in the Italian Market, the Iberia Market and the new e-Solutions Division that made it possible to retrieve information automatically and immediately, without wasting time and overall resources.