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Terna and the intelligent pylon

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Terna and the intelligent pylon

Massimiliano Garri, Terna’s Director of Innovation and Market Solutions will be at ITWeek on 30 September at 2:00 pm

Since its foundation in 1999, Terna has been dealing with the governance of complexity. This is the role of those responsible for managing 75,000 kilometers of high voltage lines and 900 stations. It does not produce, it does not stock, but it sorts the traffic on the national territory.
“Twenty years ago we had 800 electricity generation points, today they are over 1 million. And in the face of this complexity, technologies, skills and innovation are needed”, he underlines Massimiliano Garri, Terna’s Director of Innovation and Market Solutions.
It is therefore understandable how much the digital transition has become a key component for the challenges of today and tomorrow. To such an extent that Garri claims that the investment of one euro in software is more productive than 100 in iron. As if to say that applications and Artificial Intelligence are the driving force behind the optimization of every process. For this reason, digitization and innovation will coagulate 1.2 billion euros of investments, out of a total of 10 planned with the update of the 2021-2025 industrial plan.
The innovation dossier contains seventy active projects, of about 70% relating to the main activities: maintenance of the national grid and dispatching of electricity.
20% concerns innovations that can improve some related aspects, such as the safety of maintenance workers with D-Air Lab airbag jackets.
The remaining 10% is dedicated to disruptive innovation such as quantum computing. But there is also space for the metaverse, which in the pilot projects is stimulating reflection on potential areas of use and the possible impact on interpersonal, cognitive and creative skills.
Terna has decided to focus on innovation in four strategic areas: energy and power management, efficiency and green, research and development of eco-compatible materials and robotic automation of work processes.
In this archipelago of springboards for the future, the remote control of power stations and transmission infrastructures stands out. In fact, Terna’s pylons have advanced sensors that include weather stations, monitoring and diagnostic systems, including predictive ones.
“IoT4TheGrid is the project that allows us to collect and process data to make maintenance more efficient, manage flows, limit any disruptions and increase network security and resilience”, explains Garri.
But there is also room for the digital twin of the electricity grid: the digital twin of the physical one that allows for the elaboration of mathematical models capable of anticipating adverse events and making the system more efficient. The first projects started in various regions, including Abruzzo, Veneto and Sicily.
An intelligent network infrastructure allows not only to better manage resources and therefore reduce waste, but also to meet the needs of “prosumer” users: those who consume and produce energy from renewable sources.
Energy communities are spreading and therefore Terna’s task is to ensure the balance between energy injected by small producers and that consumed by users and companies.
A challenge that is also at the center of the Equigy project, where blockchain technology is being experimented with other European managers to keep track of every transaction with small distributed resources.
Finally, Terna inaugurated Tyrrhenian Lab, a widespread training center of excellence, which, with the collaboration of the Universities of Cagliari, Salerno and Palermo, will enable people with key technological skills for the sector. Moreover, these areas will be connected through the Tyrrhenian Link, a 950 km submarine power line and 1,000 MW of power.

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