Technological progress is revolutionizing the entire energy value chain, creating new business models and enabling important economic, environmental and social benefits. Data is a fundamental aspect, by nature it is potentially infinite and inclusive, which allows for the creation of new connections. Developing support tools and skills within the Company is necessary to manage data and derive value from it, to satisfy explicit needs and anticipate latent needs.Robotics, artificial intelligence, cyber security, Big Data and cloud are among the most frequently used technologies in which Enel is investing. In fact, the 2019-2021 Strategic Plan sets aside 5.4 billion euros for investment in digitalization, in the three main lines: Customers (0.6), People (0.3) and Assets (4.5).
The guidelines and the enabling factors
Enel has defined its digital strategy and a path that includes the entire value chain, since 2016. Foundations have been laid to enable the transformation of the Company, using the cloud, platforms and cyber security as enabling factors. The strategy for the coming years targets large-scale digitalization to maximize value. The main activities concern:
- ever increasing diffusion methods and agile culture;
- continuous improvement;
- strengthening data driven culture to drive change;
- focus on the execution of digital initiatives;
- sharing the best internal practices with other areas;
- enhancement of digital impacts.
The strategy is based on sustainability and aims to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 9, 11, 12, 17). The digitalization of customer contracts, development of virtual contact channels, reduction of physical movement of people working in the Company through virtualization of asset management operations, improvement of worker and data security, and protection of critical Group infrastructure are just some of the examples that contribute to the development of Enel’s sustainable business model.
Enel’s digital transformation is driven by the “Global Digital Solutions” team, which directs the strategic choices, defines the development paths and guarantees their implementation, together with all the Business Lines and Holding Functions. The operating model encourages an agile work approach to anticipate market demands. Constant attention is paid to internal and external customer satisfaction, to ensure innovation and flexibility as well as fast adaptation times and reactions to company changes. The structure was updated in 2018, to be even more cutting-edge and to make the digital hub a key factor. Real digital solution development centers integrate all the necessary resources and skills for creating value and working in an agile way.
Machine learning and predictive analysis
The digitalization and development of innovative tools based on machine learning technologies enable predictive analyses to be carried out, for the maintenance of the electricity distribution network and power generation plant components. Any anomalies can be detected in advance and interventions made to prevent equipment failure. Reducing the risk of malfunctions has a significant impact, both economically and also on the environment and people safety.
The Group’s first Predictive Center was inaugurated at the Civitavecchia plant (Italy) at the end of 2018. Specialized in preventative monitoring, it uses a network of sensors and Big Data algorithms to analyze machine data from global thermal production plants in real time, foreseeing and moving up possible failures and malfunctions. The Schneider Avantis PRiSM is one of the tools that has been implemented. Its “job” is to learn the operational profile of each piece of equipment, monitored during all the plant’s different environmental and operational scenarios. The data generated from the sensors is entered into the advanced software modeling process and compared to the real time operating data, to detect any deviations from the expected results. A plan is in place to roll out machine learning tools in thermal generation plants, to migrate from a control to a forecasting approach.
The digI&NItaly project is also ongoing, aimed at redesigning the network’s digital processes. In Italy, the project plans to test the use of advanced IoT sensors in 25 substations.
There are two types of sensors: electrical (which measure voltage, current, etc.) and environmental (which measure humidity, temperature, ultrasound, etc.). The acquired information enables the various platforms to evaluate the network’s operational performance, capture weak signals that could lead to potential failures and send real-time reports to personnel who can intervene promptly.
The creation of a Network Digital Twin, a digital twin of the network, was also launched to increase efficiency, predictive maintenance and emergency response speed.
The cloud was a key strategic enabler for Enel in 2018, enabling the use of both infrastructure and app-based resources when required, making full use of the access possibilities offered by the network and reducing waste linked to the consumption of unused resources. The percentage of Enel cloud applications in 2018 was 96%. The AWS (Amazon Web Services) cloud that Enel uses needs an average of about 16% of the energy required by traditional on-premise infrastructure, creating an average reduction in CO2 emissions of about 88%. It is housed in green data processing centers that are powered by 50% renewable energy.
People: the contribution of shared IT services to decarbonization
A transformation process must revolve around people and their needs must be satisfied.
A digital transformation process was therefore launched 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 and making the most of new opportunities offered by digital technology. The project aims to improve the digital skills and 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.
In 2018, 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
A printing service has been operating in all Enel offices for some time now. In addition to using new-generation printers, 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 and digitalization, have 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 electricity consumption of printers while printing is calculated by applying each country’s emission coefficient (data source: Enerdata), which takes into account the specific mix of energy sources present1.
1 Extract from Enerdata, June 8, 2018. It considers data from the following countries: Italy, Spain, Russia, Romania, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Colombia.
In 2018, electricity consumption outside normal working hours2 continued to be monitored. This is related to the IT workstations (desktops, laptops, monitors) of Enel 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 analysis, specific awareness actions were defined aimed at mitigating electricity consumption. While showing an increase in hours of inactivity, the new IT tools made available to Enel people have enabled a reduction in emissions.
[data source: Blue Jeans]
2 Monday-Friday (from 7pm to 7am); Saturday and Sunday. The monitoring excluded servers and personal computers that must always remain on (for example, GESI application, Enel Points, Power Exchange, etc.). Specifically, the indicator represents the amount of CO2 associated with the electricity 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.