Just a few years ago it was a term that was unknown to most: today the word has entered into common usage. The prosumer (producer + consumer) is one of the emerging roles in the new energy scenario: from photovoltaic panels to microgeneration plants, small wind turbines to electric cars, all these different technologies can be used by both private individuals and companies to become energy producers as well as consumers.
The increasingly dynamic role of customers in the energy market is one of the distinctive features of the energy transition currently under way. Even more incisive, however, are the actions of prosumers, who are changing the face of the electricity system from a rigid, mono-directional top-down model based on a limited number of power plants that supply power to customers, to an increasingly decentralized and multidirectional model. This new paradigm sees a double inversion of perspective. On the one hand, the physical flow of electricity changes direction to travel from the consumer to the grid while, on the other, the customer is no longer a passive user but becomes a key player in the process.
Enel surpasses the one million mark
All of this means that it is necessary to be able to rely on electricity grids that are increasingly efficient and flexible. For this reason, the relationship between prosumers and companies in the electricity sector is particularly important.
Enel, as a distribution network manager at global level, is working to encourage the integration into the energy system of prosumers, who produce clean energy both for their own consumption and to feed onto the grid, thereby enabling the penetration of renewable sources and working towards a zero-emissions future. This approach is firmly in line with our Group’s strategy which places the customer at the center of its activities.
Now, thanks to our endeavors, we have passed an important milestone with more than one million prosumers currently connected to Enel’s networks all over the world. Together their contribution adds up to an installed capacity of around 57,000 MW. More than 900,000 prosumers are in Italy, for a total capacity of more than 31,000 MW; in second place for the number of connections is Brazil (with 62,000 prosumers producing a total of 700 MW), while Spain boasts around 37,000 prosumers but a greater capacity (more than 21,000 MW). These are followed by Romania, Chile, Colombia and Argentina respectively.
Digital grids and advanced services
This achievement has been made possible by both innovative grid technologies like energy storage plants that help customers extricate energy consumption from reliance on weather conditions and the addition of a portfolio of technical and commercial services that Global Infrastructure and Networks has developed specifically for prosumers.
Enel has created an online area reserved for producers, which enables rapid communication, making it possible to have data, information and documentation about regulations and necessary technical requisites always on hand.
Moreover, as part of the global project of evolving the operational model of our networks into a platform system, we have developed a bespoke solution for prosumers called Journey Produttori. Thanks to the automation and digitalization of the procedures, it is possible to reduce the manual management of some procedures and non-essential activities. The result is greater speed but also increased operational transparency, both for people who work for our Group and also for prosumers, who acquire greater knowledge about how we manage requests and services.
Bringing smart cities to life
The story of prosumers is still in its infancy. In the future they will become increasingly present within the energy world. With their contribution to decarbonizing the electricity system, they will play a vital role in the smart cities of the future, which will be powered by clean energies through smart grids.
Just think about mobility, for example, a crucial aspect of the smart city. Today mobility contributes substantially to urban pollution and this has significant repercussions on people’s quality of life. If electric vehicles offer the most promising solution to this problem, it is equally important to underline that in this sphere there will also be a way for customers to become active players. With the futuristic V2G (Vehicle-to-Grid) technology developed by Enel, it will, in fact, be possible to feed back surplus stored energy from a car back onto the electricity grid, making the customer even more of a key player in the energy transition.