Digitalisation as the way to smart, secure and sustainable energy

A look at some of our partners’ decarbonisation solutions that were highlighted at a recent conference in Brussels on the digitalisation of energy.

“Digitalization: the way to smart, secure and sustainable energy?” was a conference held on December 18th in Brussels, organised by POLITICO and sponsored by Eni. From the short but wide-ranging programme, we highlight some key aspects of relevance to DecarbEurope’s partners and their initiatives.

Digital transformation

Luigi Lusuriello, Chief Digital Officer, Eni, spoke of how Eni is extending the digital transformation of all areas of its business. This includes developing and implementing algorithms to optimize production, reduce production uncertainties and decrease non-productive time. This is leveraging tenfold benefits in core areas of their business. Moreover, Eni has created algorithms optimised by artificial intelligence that increase the energy efficiency of their power plants and reduce their CO2 emissions.

Electric vehicles

Claude Turmes, Minister of Energy, Luxembourg described “Chargy”, which is the name given to the country’s charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. It includes the roll-out of 800 charging stations in cooperation with the Distribution System Operators. Standardised hardware and software is being implemented to improve the ease of use of the charging stations for drivers of electric vehicles.

Claude Turmes: “In Europe we have to make sure our data centres are ultra-efficient and run on 100% renewables”

Smart meters

Going hand in hand with “Chargy” in Luxembourg is “Smarty”, the country’s smart meter infrastructure, which now covers more than 50% of all connection points in Luxembourg. The aim is to extend the use of smart meters from electricity and gas to include water and district heating. This will help to accelerate the integration of thousands of decentralised PV and other renewable energy sources, and will  encourage consumers to become more active in the energy transition.

Estonia is also implementing a large-scale data hub involving smart meters that aims for 150 million euros of direct savings due to operational cost reductions and decreased losses, said Ando Leppiman, Deputy Secretary General for Energy, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, Estonia. It enables data to be collected on an hourly basis on each consumer. The intention is that by 2020 all oil and gas meters will be smart too.

Energy management

According to Kimmo Tiliikainen, Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing, Finland, smart grids have to be fully incorporated with sector coupling, which involves integrating in a smart and digitalised way electricity, heating, cooling and transport into a comprehensive smart energy system.

Frauke Thies, Executive Director, smartEN, suggested that digitalisation extends to changing the entire face of the energy system, because it changes how people interact so that consumers become more dynamic interlocutors in the energy system. As an example she highlighted dynamic energy pricing in the Sello shopping mall in Finland. With more than 170 shops, a multiplex cinema, a concert hall and a library, Sello is Finland’s most visited shopping centre, welcoming 24 million visitors per year. A comprehensive optimisation program focuses on reducing energy consumption and improving air quality. The smart power micro-grid currently being built represents the first concrete step towards connecting properties to the virtual power plants of the future.

Frauke Thies, Executive Director, smartEN, sees consumers becoming increasingly dynamic, self-generating and taking advantage of the flexibility they have

Energy storage

Kimmo Tiliikainen suggested that excess wind power could be stored and used when heat is needed. Another possibility is to connect data centres to the heat network to utilize the surplus heat generated. He gave the example of Helsinki-based energy utility Helen Oy which has begun construction of Finland’s largest heat storage facility in the old oil caverns in Mustikkamaa. Heat or surplus heat produced with a high efficiency rate will be stored in the facility when the heating need in Helsinki is not at its highest. By storing district heat, the rock cavern heat storage facility will reduce Helen’s CO2 emissions by 21,000 tonnes annually.


Claude Turmes suggested that the cost of the digitalisation of energy is almost a non-issue due to the efficiencies it provides. Kimmo Tiliikainen agreed that it’s an investment that really pays back. In addition, it allows individual and corporate consumers to use electricity when the prices are low, thus saving costs.

David Turk, Head of the Strategic Initiatives Office, International Energy Agency, presented some impressive statistics regarding cost and digitalisation. Electric vehicle batteries have fallen in cost by 80% since 2010. At the same time there has been a 90% cost reduction in smart digital sensors. In buildings, smart thermostats and other digital tools will reduce energy consumption by 10% by 2040. In road freight, 20-25% less energy is being used because of platooning and smart logistics. By 2040, an estimated 11 billion appliances worldwide will be connected to smart demand response to match up with variable renewable energy sources, with a saving potential of 270 billion USD.

View the video

Watch a complete video of the conference on the POLITICO website (75 minutes).

“Digitalising Energy requires good collaboration between grid experts and security experts”

Anjos Nijk, Managing Director, European Network for Cyber Security

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