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How digitalization is aiding the energy transition

From the rapid rise in the number of connected devices to automated production processes, digital technologies are profoundly changing our energy habits. These technologies both improve the productivity of infrastructures and reduce worldwide energy consumption, concludes a recent report from the International Energy Agency (IEA)*.

Overall energy consumption in buildings could be reduced 10% by 2040 thanks to digitalization (connected thermostats, smart lighting, etc.).

Digitalization is an integral part of the ENGIE Group’s strategy, alongside decarbonization, decentralization and energy efficiency.

  • Presentation of Darwin, ENGIE's digital platform for real-time and remote control of its renewable assets.

The energy sector in the digital era

Energy systems are increasingly digitized, making it possible to identify needs in real time and to provide energy at the right moment. They are therefore more productive, more reliable and more sustainable. According to the IEA’s estimation, widespread use of digital technologies could reduce production costs by between 10 % and 20 %.

Although digitalization first saw the light of day in the energy sector back in the 1970s, used particularly for managing energy networks, the scale of Big Data and advances in technology are now profoundly revolutionizing production and consumption models.

According to the IEA report, more than a billion homes could form part of interconnected electricity systems by 2040. There will be more than 20 billion smart appliances by 2020.

Digitalization, a strategic priority for ENGIE

ENGIE has taken a decisive step toward the energy revolution by focusing on digitalization. The Group plans to invest €1.5 billion in emerging technologies and digitalization between 2016 and 2018.

  • Increasingly connected homes

    There are more and more connected appliances in people’s homes, allowing users to remotely control their domestic electrical appliances from their smartphones and portable devices. There is no shortage of innovative methods of regulating your energy consumption according to your needs – adjusting the central heating from work, automatically closing the blinds, controlling the lighting with a presence detector, etc.
    To support its customers, ENGIE also develops a full range of online services to enable them to carry out their operations easily and independently (access to information, customer zone, online sales, etc.).
  • Lower energy consumption, more efficient production

    The digital tools offered by ENGIE allow customers to be in more control of their energy consumption and promote energy efficiency. One example of this is Vertuoz, a service that analyzes energy bills and identifies potential savings within a building.
    Digitalization also plays a growing part in managing the energy efficiency of industrial sites. It enables them to reduce their costs while remaining competitive. To do this, the Group has developed Blu.e by ENGIE, a digital platform that assists with energy management. It constantly collects and analyzes thousands of data items to make precise adjustments designed to maximize the energy performance of industrial facilities.
    More generally, ENGIE supports the development of smart grids, or smart networks: these are grid management tools that make it possible to adopt energy supply according to demand in real time thanks to IT and telecommunications technologies. By way of example, smart meters for electricity and natural gas not only enable consumers to monitor their energy consumption in real time and so make energy savings, they also allow energy network operators to optimize network management, anticipate potential outages, and develop new services that are more efficient and more environmentally friendly.
  • Generating renewable and decentralized energy

    The Group has designed the Darwin digital platform for real-time monitoring and control of hydroelectric, solar and wind installations. Thanks to the data transmitted by sensors connected to the installations, ENGIE can carry out predictive maintenance to improve the performance of its facilities at the lowest cost.
    Digitalization also makes it possible to delocalize energy production, situating it as near as possible to the place of consumption and even devising solutions that give access to energy to populations living a great distance from electricity networks. Microgrids, or micro-networks, are local sources of electricity production that operate with a smart distribution network. ENGIE supplies power to the village of Ketumbeine in Tanzania, for example, thanks to the installation of a micro-network of solar panels. ENGIE also recently acquired Fenix, a company that provides domestic solar installations in Africa. .
    And the digital revolution is going yet further! New tools are emerging, such as the blockchain. Applications in the energy sector are promising: it can provide the means to allow decentralized energy transactions between private parties. Individuals whose solar panels have produced a surplus of energy have a totally secure means of selling it to their neighbors.

* Source : « Digitalization and Energy 2017 », International Energy Agency (IEA), november 2017.

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