Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Enel seeks renewable energy collaborations

Steve Rogerson
October 10. 2017



Enel wants to collaborate with small and medium-sized companies to develop renewable energy technologies. The Italian manufacturer is offering the use of its Catania Innovation Hub’s facilities in Passo Martino, Sicily.
 
Ernesto Ciorra, director of Enel’s global innovation and sustainability division, also offered the use of Enel’s specialist technicians when he made the announcement at the Open Innovation in Enel conference at the University of Catania.
 
Small and medium-sized enterprises and start-ups have the opportunity to collaborate on the design, implementation and testing of the ideas selected.
 
Companies interested in the initiative can submit their projects by November 15th. The ideas should regard the development of innovative technology in the field of renewable energy and, in particular, new solar generation modules.
 
These can cover components and tools for optimising plant performance, automation systems and artificial intelligence applied to the construction and operation of plants, hybrid renewable generation systems, floating photovoltaic projects, safety technologies, the development of technologies using augmented and virtual reality, digital energy services including IoT, big data analytics, predictive and automatic operation and maintenance, and the aggregation of distributed power generation sources.
 
“With this project, we aim to make Catania a centre for research and experimentation in renewable energy technologies, leveraging the lab that Enel has recently launched and the support programme we will offer to the companies that work with us,” said Ciorra. “With this call, we will work alongside the most promising national and international SMEs and start-ups in the search for innovations in the field of renewable energy, an area in which Enel is a globally recognised leader.”
 
The SMEs and start-ups selected will be able to grow within the laboratory with the support of technicians and using laboratories designed to test technologies in the renewable generation field, such as solar thermal and photovoltaic systems, microgrids, storage and wind power, with indoor and outdoor testing equipment.
 
In addition, companies will have access to Enel's network to identify strategic partnerships to develop their businesses. Start-ups on the other hand will have access to an Enel acceleration programme, with training sessions with industry experts and support services for international expansion, growth and business plan development.
 
The selected projects must be at least in the prototype phase, and must be able to demonstrate that they have already been applied to an operative environment on a preliminary level. Also considered strategic will be the business potential and the quality of the team involved, in addition to the protection of the intellectual property and the availability of clients even in the initial phases.
 
The selection will be finalised between November and December. The selected start-ups will benefit from access to Enel’s internal market and the commercial network, the laboratory specialised in renewable technology and specific testing areas, as well as synergies with universities and with specialised research centres, Enel’s international network developed with other hubs around the world, support in the search for public funding to finance the projects, and the acceleration programme dedicated to start-ups.
 
This initiative is part of the broader investment programme of more than €100m that Enel has launched in its Sicilian technology hub. The project envisages the investment of more than €80m in the 3Sun photovoltaic manufacturing plant and €20m in the innovation lab.
 
Thanks to the investment, the innovation lab will become a technology campus and a youth entrepreneur accelerator designed to stimulate research and innovation in the energy sector. It will host start-ups, and national and international research centres, and will have links with Enel's innovation hub network around the world.
 
Enel is already actively working with Italy’s National Research Centre, which has created a laboratory at the innovation lab dedicated to the development of the bifacial heterojunction module that will be produced at the 3Sun plant, and with the University of Catania for the realisation of projects in the renewable energy field.