In order to promote new uses of energy and new ways of managing it and making it accessible to more people in a sustainable manner, innovation in the energy industry must be accelerated.
At Enel, digitalization and innovation are pillars of our business strategy in order to seize these great opportunities for growth in a rapidly changing landscape while ensuring high levels of safety, business continuity and operating efficiency.
Within the Group, we have about 300 innovative projects throughout the value chain in the various geographic areas in which we operate. A large part of these projects have called for entering into partnerships with other leading players in their respective fields and the contribution of start-ups that have developed solutions not yet available in the marketplace. These collaborations have arisen out of the “Open Innovation” ecosystem in which the Group has been operating for over two years now. In 2016, some 350 start-ups were introduced to the business lines and 28 partnership agreements were signed, bringing the total number of local and global partnerships in innovation to 114. Three Innovation Hubs are also active in regions in which we are seeing the highest rates of innovation in order to be able to be a part of some of the world’s most advanced innovation ecosystems.
Enel is beginning a process of transformation that will make our production and services automated, interconnected and intelligent (a sort of Enel 4.0). Enel is, in fact, a platform company of power grids that can enable new platform models by expanding our capabilities to the management of data networks, thereby promoting the implementation of businesses tied to areas of technological innovation such as e-mobility, mini-grids, e-homes, connectivity, storage and more.
In the area of e-mobility, various projects are underway in Europe and Latin America that concern, for example, the expansion of recharging infrastructures. In Italy, as a part of the project EVA+, 180 fast-charging points will be installed by 2019 on the motorway corridors defined by the European Commission, while in Spain the installation of fast-charging points for e-buses has begun. As of 2016, there were a total of 3,200 Enel recharging stations (both public and privately owned).
Emobility also presents an opportunity for ancillary services, such as the innovative use of vehicles as “mobile batteries” to provide vehicle-to-grid services, testing for which is already underway in Denmark, Great Britain and Germany. Car sharing projects are also underway.
Enel is also developing solutions for the Internet of Things (IoT), i.e. the interconnection of devices via the Internet, within a number of production facilities that in 2016 allowed for the digitalization of the thermal power plants at Torrevaldaliga 154 Annual Report 2016 Nord, Brindisi (Italy) and Besos (Spain), thereby improving the process of managing and monitoring these plants.
In the area of the smart home, Enel has entered into six partnerships with start-ups in order to test new solutions that will be able to provide customers with innovative solutions related to energy monitoring and efficiency and personal security and home management. In all of these cases, Enel is acting as an aggregator of solutions able to provide our customers with a range of value-added services.
Enel has also confirmed the development of micro-grids, especially in Latin America, such as in Ollagüe (Chile) with a hybrid system that includes photovoltaic power, energy storage and diesel generators with the goal of providing electricity to a community of 200 people.