Innovation hub to support the future design of the energy sector

“The energy sector is facing a deep transformation, and the pace of these changes is surely no longer the one we were used to in the past. Today’s business environment is very volatile and many paradigms have shifted,” says Ann-Christin Gerlach, Executive Assistant at Enel, Italy’s most important distributor of electricity. 

Ann-Christin Gerlach (Enel)According to her, the most important move in this context is to embrace change and engage in an open dialogue with stakeholders. That’s why she decided to participate in the 4th edition of our Future Grid Managers programme which is currently approaching its closing seminar. With 13 participants from 11 distribution and transmission system operators (DSOs and TSOs) from all over Europe, the programme definitely fosters an open dialogue and allows for exchange of best practices and ideas on technological innovations, growth strategies and potential future business models. 

“I was particularly interested in the management of digital infrastructure, the integration of renewable energy sources, and the development of solutions for communities and cities that foster a new era of consumer choice. Through the network digitalisation, the network operator becomes the first choice to enable services for other sectors in a cost-efficient manner: electric mobility, data collection, smart urban services and so forth. An open and sustainable digital grid enforces actions of all actors (prosumers, aggregators, retailers, ESCOs, regulators, etc.), advising them about energy usage, fostering energy efficiency and market competition.
This kind of smart convergence cannot be achieved by technological evolution alone, but by means of best practice sharing and an open dialogue across DSOs, TSOs and other stakeholders, in order to achieve outstanding performance in terms of quality of service to the final customer and innovation. In this respect, the Vlerick Future Grid Managers programme represents a unique learning and sharing platform.”

“In particular, with my project team I had the chance to work on a Digital Energy Platform model in which the electricity grid enables new customer centric services, leveraging on the Internet of Things and data management in a Big Data logic. The programme can thus be seen as an innovation hub, in which industry experts of various nations meet with the aim of supporting the design of the future energy sector.”

Now that the programme is coming to an end, Ann-Christin admits that she will truly miss the interaction with the other participants. However, the network she has built up with professors, executives, regulatory entities etc., will continue to stay alive as she returns to daily professional life. “It is very hard to concretely describe what you really set up during the programme and I don’t want to anticipate, but today I am very glad to know that I have colleagues at many others DSOs and TSOs that I can contact any time for brainstorming, benchmarking and a quick call on any topic.”

Do you also want to engage in an open dialogue with other distribution and transmission system operators? Then join the next edition of our Future Grid Managers programme which starts in October.

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