“With urbanization comes electrification, but it won’t be electrification as we know it,” says Livio Gallo, head of global infrastructure and networks at Italian energy giant Enel, which operates in 34 countries and five continents.
“In the future, every customer will be able to generate their own electricity, whether from a photovoltaic panel on the roof or a small wind turbine or even from their electric vehicles’ batteries. The consumers of tomorrow are going to be active players in the energy market.”
Enel’s journey to the future began back in 2001, when it became the first company in the world to start installing smart meters on a nationwide scale, giving in excess of 30 million Italian households more control over their electricity consumption.
That project marked Enel’s first step of a strategy which is designed to open up the energy market to new technologies and new participants.
““New technologies are turning grids into drivers of sustainable development.”
Livio Gallo, Head of Global Infrastructure & Networks, Enel
In Italy, the company is now upgrading its network of smart meters with a next-generation device which enables two-way communications between each household and the national network, helping create a truly smart grid. Based on the data generated by the new meters, electricity suppliers can tailor special offers for their customers, while the latter can adjust their use of energy-intensive appliances based on the different hourly rates.
For their part, utilities will understand just how much energy a large building or city district consumes at different periods and will be able to decide when they need to store wind and solar power for use at a later time and when to inject it directly into the grid.
In a not-too-distant future, ordinary consumers will even be able to sell the power stored by batteries in their parked electric cars back into the network.
As Enel’s Gallo says: “with smart meters, smart grids and smart customers, we can finally create cities that are fully sustainable”
As published in TIME magazine