On the occasion of Expo Milano 2015, the US magazine Newsweek published an economic report on Italy called Italy's Innovation Renaissance. After three years of recession, thanks to a combination of factors, the Italian economy is experiencing a slow but steady return to growth. Economic and regulatory reforms have encouraged many Italian companies to invest in innovation and international expansion. This is the ideal backdrop for the Universal Exhibition in Milan, which is expected to attract over 20 million visitors from around the world.
The Newsweek report includes the Enel Group — an Official Global Partner of the event, overseeing the creation of an actual miniature smart city at Expo 2015 — among the leading players in the field of innovation. Enel is the first utility in the world to have designed and developed electronic meters, as well as the company with the highest number of meters installed throughout Europe (nearly 40 million, of which 34 in Italy). The Group plans to install another 13 million meters in Spain by 2018, while a series of pilot projects are already underway in Brazil, Chile and the Philippines. The multinational power company has also signed a cooperation agreement on smart grids with the State Grid Corporation of China, while it is actively engaged in the issue with several Asian utilities.
Electronic meters transmit consumption data directly to electricity suppliers, who no longer need to rely on estimates or send out technicians to perform readings. Customers can also keep track of their consumption through their meter and monitor energy usage and costs in real-time.
'Thanks to the electronic meter, we have been able to cut the cost of managing the electricity network. In addition, we are able to offer different prices at different times of day, helping to push consumption to times when energy is less costly and thus increasing energy consumption efficiency for our customers,' declared Enel's CEO, Francesco Starace, in the Newsweek article on the report, Pioneers in The Smart Power Revolution. 'We now want to spread the innovations that we are developing to countries where energy demand is increasing rapidly.'
Enel installed the world's first electronic meter in 2001. Today, while many European countries have not yet completed the installation of first generation meters on a large-scale, Enel is preparing to launch second generation meters, with additional features such as the use of machine-to-machine communications (M2M), which will make it possible to connect them with all other household appliances, laying the foundations for a more conscientious and efficient use of electricity. For the same purposes, Enel is working to develop smart meters to measure gas consumption as well.