Innovation is crucial for sustainable energy

Innovation is crucial for sustainable energy

For Enel, innovation is entwined with sustainability and the concept of ‘innovability’: the key to energy that is increasingly efficient, sustainable and accessible.


Innovability means innovation linked to sustainability in a combination that creates value for Enel and all of its stakeholders. The concept is a cornerstone of the Group’s strategy and involves continuous research to find new solutions and opportunities for our customers, encouraging access to energy and development, respecting the environment and the communities in which Enel operates.

Our company presents itself as a “Platform company” of electricity networks that can enable new models and platforms, each expanding its own range of expertise and encouraging business linked to innovative technology branches.


From electronic counters to intelligent homes

The main innovative projects for the network concern smart grids, intelligent networks for energy distribution. In June 2016 at the Triennale Museum in Milan, Enel presented the Enel Open Meter 2.0, the new electricity meter at the cutting edge of Enel’s Open Power strategy, a process of renewal working towards the concept of open, accessible, technologically pioneering energy. The 2.0 electronic meters have pioneered the trail also for more innovative solutions in the field of home automation, i.e. the creation of “intelligent” homes (e-homes) that, thanks to an energy efficient approach, reduce consumption and improve comfort. Enel’s initiatives include the system e-goodlife in Italy and Nexo in Spain, which monitor consumption, offer remote controlled devices and secure management of the home’s systems.

Enel’s leading position also in the automatic and intelligent management of networks, thanks to Smart grids that make the electricity network more flexible, enables the management of an increased level of distributed generation (also from renewable sources), making better use of storage systems and remote-management.

Enel’s project “città resilienti” together with ANCI (National Association of Italian Councils) aims to boost the participation of Italian cities in the United Nations campaign “Making Cities Resilient”, with the goal of involving 400 councils by 2020.



Innovation is also driving the sector of mobility, thanks to the features of efficiency and environmental sustainability of electric vehicles. Enel has launched numerous projects in Europe and in Latin America, with a particular focus on recharging infrastructure. In Italy, thanks to Enel, there are already around 900 public recharging columns. The project EVA+ plans the installation of a further 180 rapid recharging points along the motorway corridor between Italy and Austria.

E-mobility also represents an opportunity in the field of subsidiary services including the innovative use of cars as “mobile batteries” to provide services to the network. The innovative project Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G), which Enel has been developing in collaboration with Nissan, focuses on bidirectional electric recharging, i.e. from the infrastructure to the vehicle and vice versa so that the vehicles are transformed into mobile batteries.

Transport, homes, infrastructure and clean energy: these are the cornerstones of the Smart city concept, in which the advantages of efficiency will increasingly extend to all citizens.


"In order to encourage new uses of energy, new forms of energy management, greater accessibility to an increasing number of people in a sustainable way, it is necessary to boost innovation in the field of energy"
Seeding Energies – 2016 Sustainability Report

Microgrids for aiding development in emerging economies

Microgrids represent an innovative business model that requires a range of skills across the entire value chain, in production, distribution and sales.

Microgrids enable the management of operations in areas in which the electricity network is not present (off grid) or is not sufficiently robust (limited grid).

Enel is involved in diverse initiatives in Africa, Latin America and Asia, for example in Ollagüe, in Chile, where a hybrid system provides electricity to a village of 200 inhabitants, involving photovoltaic production, energy storage systems and diesel generators. Enel is developing a similar project on a larger scale in India, where over 270 million people do not have access to electricity.


Innovation Hubs and start-ups: an international scenario

In order to encourage development and the coordination with innovative companies, Enel has promoted 300 innovative projects that cover the entire value chain in diverse geographical locations, 114 partnership agreements, 80 projects from start-ups and business units and markets and three innovation Hubs in Israel, Brazil and Chile. Launched in 2016, the Tel Aviv Hub has focused on the neuronal systems capable of connecting cars, sensors and devices of various kinds, Smart Home technology and Cyber Security, which has become increasingly important in order to counter the new IT threat. In 2017 the new Enel Hub in Berkeley was established in a location that it is fair to describe as the global centre of innovation: Silicon Valley in California.

"Enel has made Open Innovation and digitalization the cornerstones of its industrial strategy in order to develop within a context that is transforming rapidly, guaranteeing high standards of security, business continuity and operating efficiency"
Seeding Energies – 2016 Sustainability Report

Partnership with leading players from other sectors

In 2016 the Enel Group took part in the project Breakthrough Innovation, dedicated to innovation and new business models in order to work towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – SDGs. Of the 17 SDGs those linked to innovation are: SDG 9 (Innovation and infrastructure), SDG 11 (Sustainable cities and communities) and SDG 17 (Partnership for the goals). Many of Enel’s 300 projects have been developed thanks to partnerships with other leading players from other sectors or with the involvement of start-ups capable of developing solutions that are not yet present on the market. In 2016 alone 28 partnerships were established leading to 114 local and global innovation agreements.


Enel honoured for innovation

In 2016 Enel was awarded the Platts Global Energy Award (GEA) in the category of Industry Leadership – Energy. The award acknowledged the Group’s proactive approach in its Strategic Plan that encourages change in the energy sector and its leadership in the fields of innovation and sustainability. Operating efficiency and innovation are the cornerstones of Enel’s Sustainability Plan 2017-2019. For larger scale infrastructure, the target is the installation of 18 million smart meters between 2017-2019, while for ultra broadband in Italy the aim is to provide coverage to 250 council areas and 9.5 million homes by 2020. Concerning partnerships, the goal for 2020 is to select 40 new innovative start-ups for development projects.