Because of the submission of our online application form to enerTIC Awards 2020 with the Endesa’s project “ Automatic Supervision in Smart Grid”, we have interviewed to Pepe De Toro, Project Manager in Control Center Teleservices (Enterprise Monitoring Center) at Endesa (Enel Iberoamérica) to know the Industrial Digitalization that this company is carrying out to provide of a unified system to monitore, supervision and integral control of medium and high voltage assets which the organization uses to offer its different services to the customer.
1. Amplía: What changes does the Electricity Network face?
Pepe De Toro: We are facing a geographical dispersion and an increase in the volume of energy generation and consumption points, and this will transform all the classic premises for managing the resources of an electricity company and to continue to control and meet customers needs. This will require having many more elements under control, with a greater frequency and with an increase in the detail in the knowledge of each element.
2. A: How is Endesa addressing the challenges in recent years?
Q: We are working on breaking the current classical concepts to go from a network with a star topology with large power generators (Thermal, nuclear, etc.) and in need of many, long and complex transmission and distribution lines, to hybrid models that allow, thanks to alternative energies, to produce close to demand and, therefore, rely on a mesh or grid network where anyone can connect to produce or consume electrical energy. In addition, migrate the current centralized control and supervision networks, to the concept of “distributed intelligent networks” prepared to accept the control of energy injections at any of their points, encouraging self-generation, the purchase of excess energy, or demand in real-time.
3. A: How are you promoting digitization in the company?
Q: As a company, we must digitize our network and our processes. We must know our network much better, in real-time, which entails the deployment of a huge number of sensors for more exhaustive network control.
Also, we must interpret data in real-time. Thanks to Big Data and artificial intelligence, we will make correct data exploitation and operations more adjusted to the new challenges.
We must model the network in 3D. We must extrapolate this quite advanced process in high voltage lines to medium voltage lines, that is, to 316,000 km. only within the scope of Endesa.
4. A: In a digitization project like the one you lead, what are the most important challenges you face?
P: Electric utilities, being an essential service for society, their procedures and efforts are focused on solving the intrinsic problems of their nature in a unitary way (incidence, solution). Thus, when a service incident appears affecting thousands of people (for example problems in a substation, power line, generation plant, etc.), all the human and material resources necessary to solve these incidents are used. However, in a scenario where the population of equipment is hundreds of thousands, only with a 1% impact we would find tens of thousands of incidents. In these types of scenarios, there are not enough human and technical resources for their analysis and resolution.
Also, we find the multiple and different needs of the different company businesses (residential distribution, industrial, generation, …) at the level of procedures and action processes with professionals on the field who are experts in the service of each business but not in IT and communications technologies. In addition, with a great diversity of equipment types, protocols and different behaviors regarding the use of communications involved in the solution and as part of the amalgam of the ecosystem that makes up the sensor technology applied to each type of business.
All this diversity, together with the high volume, means that the operating tools must be reinvented to be able to efficiently cover the different business scenarios. All of this by applying automatic installation procedures with the least possible human assistance, generating, and maintaining an active inventory of the equipment covered by the safety guidelines.
5. A: What needs does a project of these magnitudes have?
P: In this project, it was necessary, on the one hand, to standardize, process and simplify field operations. On the other hand, facilitate the management and massive control, by populations, of the great diversity and volume of different elements services.
From the point of view of creating new digitized services, digitizing existing ones, taking into account the efficiency in digital transformation, we have to offer the entire organization a series of homogenized processes so that all digitization projects that arise in the company can rely on them and avoid chaos in their subsequent production implementation implemented independently each of them.
6. A. Could you tell us the agents or actors that participate in this project, as well as the technologies that are used?
P: The key to the success of this project is a specialized multidisciplinary group where we highlight Cellnex that brings us its background in the center management together with its collaborator Cibernos who gives us flexibility and with their years of experience recruiting staff committed to the needs of the center.
Communication Operators such as Movistar, Orange and Vodafone that provide different connectivity solutions. Their support has allowed the project to be successful and last over time with the evolution to new LTE communication technologies such as NBIoT and CatM, electronic SIM technologies, managed connectivity services.
The OpenGate solution as the basis for our operations tool, as well as the amplía))) company’s support based on its experience in the IoT and M2M world, which through close collaboration with Endesa teams have allowed its adaptation to face all the challenges mentioned.
And of course, our business colleagues who, little by little, trust us to solve their needs.
7. What does it mean to have the OpenGate IoT Platform in this project?
P: As I mentioned previously, we are collaborating on a “win to win” strategy with the OpenGate team to be able to anticipate the different needs and we have focused on:
• Breaking the trend to grow in human resources to manage more incidents, for them we rely on their analytics modules that automate processes.
• Simplify proactive monitoring in a rule manager that alarms us before an anomalous behavior of the population.
• Perform data mining identifying daily tasks such as excessive consumption, anomalous behavior or inventory discrepancies thanks to its correlation rules that detect if the inventoried data does not coincide with the collected data.
• Give support to businesses by supporting the resolution of field incidents by performing business tests such as a quarter hour reading or a verification of an electric vehicle charging point or verification of industrial safety systems without the operators having to be experts in each of the business areas. It is the platform that performs the different verification procedures, adapting to the amalgam of different equipment programming languages and protocols to interact with the final equipment.
8. A: What is your vision of the Electrical Network of the future?
P: The energy model is changing by leaps and bounds from a centralized generation strategy to a more efficient and flexible one of distributed generation in which a significant part of generation occurs near the point of supply or consumption.
Electric utilities such as Endesa have many important challenges for the future, where it is necessary to reinforce: the commitment to society, the flexibility and efficiency of the service and sustainability and become one of the main drivers of the energy transition.
Companies are at a turning point where it is necessary to reinforce our commitment to society and it becomes one of the main drivers (active players) in the energy transition.
If you have come this far because the interview has been interesting to you, we invite you to watch the project presentation video at this link. (click on the English subtitles )
And if you want to know more about the project, read its use case here.