Innovative ideas for every utility

Are utilities ready for the IoT of everything?

“The customer is already digital today,” said Robert Denda, Head of Network Technologies and Innovation at Enel Global Infrastructure and Networks at European Utility Week this afternoon. “People want to have connectivity, want to know exactly what is happening and have an active role.”

The future scenario of the grid includes that increasingly digital customer but also decentralized generation, a digital city and a digital worker, too—basically the electrification and connection of just about everything.

Looking inside his own utility, Denda revealed that Enel now considers the smart meter as more than just a really great tool for metering data. It now also helps with integration and measurement in the increasingly electrified, increasingly digitized world—meter as sensor, you might say. That thinking outside of the box with smart metering helps lay foundations for flexible tariffs, crowd-sourcing apps, home interfaces, chatbots and flexibility work with low voltage grid management.

That smarter meter and smarter energy thinking makes for a smarter digital worker as well, Denda adding, allowing for that worker evolution even inside the utility itself with better workforce management, virtual and augmented reality and drones.

He noted that the basics of these newer concepts are already in place (work management, asset management, network management) as foundations to build up and out from there to “more advanced” technologies through experimentation.

In the spirit of that experimentation, Denda gave a look inside of how they’re working on tackling low voltage and medium voltage network issues with real-time control based on OpenADR protocol, control and DR of customer DERS and storage, DSO-managed DRMS. (Denda gave some details on how they are working in these areas in Latin America.)

“There’s a whole technology ecosystem that interoperates,” he concluded, adding that we all need to live more in a world that looks at the larger picture—at innovation across the grid and across the board.


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