Climate Action

Francesco Amadei on the role Open Power Grids Association will play in the net zero transition

Climate Action caught up with Francesco Amadei, Head of Engineering and Construction at Enel Grids, to discuss the important role Open Power Grids Association will play in accelerating the net zero transition.

  • 28 September 2022
  • Rachel Cooper

Climate Action caught up with Francesco Amadei, Head of Engineering and Construction at Enel Grids, to discuss the important role Open Power Grids Association will play in accelerating the net zero transition.

Enel recently announced the launch of the 'Open Power Grids' Association, a new entity bringing together key stakeholders to deliver grids that will enable clean electrification. Can you tell us more about this decision?

The “Open Power Grids” (OPG) Association is part of Enel's Grid Futurability, our global industrial approach which endeavors to deliver grids fit for a Net Zero world, that is able to  host increasing shares of renewable distributed generation, to enable clean electrification and to reduce the carbon emissions associated with the infrastructure itself, phasing out direct and indirect emissions. The Association will gather industry players in order to focus on efficient and sustainable grid components that can help make that possible. Over the last decade, Enel has encouraged a convergence of technical solutions towards global standards. The Association will help to speed up progress in this direction as a range of stakeholders will share the effort of identifying the best solutions in an open and collaborative environment. In our opinion, sharing our knowledge with other stakeholders, I mean our technical specifications, as starting point, could be an important first step to work together with the market to reach net zero global goals. For the community, this step will make it easier to build reliable and competitive primary plants critical to the energy transition. In addition, the adoption of our standards by various parties (engineering companies, distributors, etc.) could lead to their constant improvement, with constructive input from all. The major common benefit is that with these global standards, it becomes possible to identify new solutions, in an open and collaborative way, with as many contributors as possible. After our recent Net Zero Grid Day event and the first OPG Association’s Webinar held in June, many players expressed their interest in joining the Association and several stakeholders already joined it afterwards. We firmly believe that the industrial transition towards more sustainable electricity distribution networks cannot be pursued individually by each Distribution System Operator (DSO). Enel has already made a lot in this direction, but working together with other players, who share our vision of sustainable assets based on sustainable equipment and infrastructures, we will pick up the pace.

It is clear that to move the tide on climate change and accelerate the net zero transition, stakeholder collaboration will be critical. How will this play a role in the new Open Power Grids Association, how does the platform work and how can people get involved?

Openness and collaboration are the key concepts of the OPG Association.

Enel Grids will make available to every member of the Association all the global functional technical specification and all members can propose in an open and collaborative way new or alternative technical solution which will be discussed and validated through a transparent process of validation. Moreover, they can freely consult and adopt the standards for their purposes.

The platform is an open digital platform that hosts and provides to the members of the Association all the Functional Technical Specifications of both components and network modules. After joining the Association, members will receive the invitation code to access it. Once access is granted, members will be able to consult the Enel Standards, with the possibility to make proposals by starting a new Improvement Request associated to a specific item, so it can be traced and merged properly with any other request related to the same and unique item. These requests will simultaneously launch a collaborative process, where every member will contribute with their comments and enhancements to the request, which will finally be assessed by a Technical Committee to be approved and updated accordingly.

Fort further information on the Association and how to join, please visit here.

Did Enel face any challenges or barriers within the industry when launching the platform? What are the benefits and growing opportunities for Enel Grids and Enel?

Some suppliers are worried about losing their competitive advantages whilst the other DSOs are sceptic about obtaining technical convergence in distribution network design and construction. Regarding technical convergence, it should be noted that Enel Grids is completing a big process of technological convergence and revision of all functional specifications over its distribution companies in 8 different countries. We do believe that we can keep converging also with the other players if they share our same values and sustainable purpose.

As we already said the benefits we are looking for are to improve technical solutions in terms of safety, performance, sustainability, and cost. Leveraging standardization and technical convergence we broaden the audience of suppliers, especially for sustainable technologies that in this moment we are affording alone.

A worldwide aggregation of DSOs demand for a cluster of standard solutions; to push DSOs in being orchestrator of the change we need to see to enhance clean and safe electrification. Manufacturing production can be focused on a significant and exhaustive share of components integrable in network solutions, also enabling the entrance of new players in the market. The more players we involve, the more we stimulate creativity and innovation, and we have the possibility to discover and introduce new technologies that are missing in Enel and to lower the costs in the market. Standardization will be the starting point to create a sustainable solutions, keys of the energy transition.

What is in store for Enel and the Open Power Grids Association? What are the next steps and events?

As mentioned before, we held a first Webinar in June to introduce the Open Power Grids Association and its aims.

We are having bilateral meetings with main DSOs and suppliers but also with manufacturers and research institutes, to gauge interest around the initiative and to show the platform and its contents and we’re going to call the first general assembly to organize the working groups and choose the first topics to be addressed.

We would like to repeat the aggregating experience of the webinar, this time involving the associates in the preparation and in the presentation of the first activities of the Association.