The investments, worked jointly and approved by the Generalitat de Catalunya, are in addition to the 263.7 million euros that the Company is already allocating this year to the distribution network within the framework of the current three-year period (2021-23). The new Investment Plan places special emphasis on low voltage, to which approximately 189.3 million euros will be allocated. Endesa, through its distribution subsidiary, e-distribución, plans to carry out around 1,300 projects spread throughout Catalonia, which will be aimed at "improving the digitalization, reliability, resilience, flexibility and efficiency of Endesa's extensive distribution network in Catalonia, which represents 39% of the power of the entire Company in the state and has, among other things, 45.669 transformation centers, 208 substations, 126 distribution centers and 98,910 kilometers of power lines (low, medium and high voltage) distributed among the four districts".
Endesa reports that the actions will be mainly focused on all those axes that allow to continue digitalizing the grid, guaranteeing its robustness and resilience, facilitating access to renewables, improving the quality and continuity of supply - minimizing service interruptions as much as possible - and preparing the infrastructures for the increase in demand resulting from electrification (which is expected to increase by 7,500 MWh within three years).
The distribution network is the one that allows electricity to reach homes, industries and services, connecting transmission networks and generation plants with consumption points. Endesa plans to work directly on more than 11,100 kilometers of high, medium and low voltage lines, especially in low voltage, where the investment amounts to almost 190 million euros (the company plans to improve more than 4,700 kilometers of low voltage wiring between 2023 and 2025).
The company estimates that the execution of all these actions will generate more than 2,900 jobs -both direct and indirect-, at a rate of about 960 jobs per year.
Digitalization, according to Endesa
"The transformation of the distribution networks plays a key role in ensuring the integration of renewable energies, the development of technologies that facilitate distributed energy and the mass deployment of electric vehicles. The distribution grid as we know it will mutate towards active and participative grids, in which the customer will be the center of the electricity system and the quality of the service they receive will be improved. This is why Endesa places digitalization as the central axis of all this change, since the electrical infrastructures will become the real facilitators of the energy transition process in which it is already immersed.
Apart from achieving decarbonization and electrification of the economy, the electricity grid also faces a major challenge: resilience. In this regard, research into innovation and the application of new technologies are key to being prepared for extreme weather events that affect the quality of supply, one of the consequences of climate change.
By way of example, one of the tools provided by digitalization to improve and reinforce the quality of supply is the automation process of the network and the installation of remote controls, which make it possible to reduce the time to restore electricity service in the event of an incident by enabling remote maneuvers to carry out the first operations and thus shorten the period for restoring supply by up to 20%".
In the period 2023-2025 Endesa plans to install around 15,000 remote controls throughout Catalonia, so that within three years the figure of 33,000 will be exceeded and the deployment begun in recent years will continue. In addition, new line switches will be installed that automatically act in the event of incidents in the network, with the aim of isolating faulty sections and restoring supply in the shortest possible time.
Another key element in this transformation is also the sensorization of transformer stations, which consists of monitoring the status of transformers and low voltage networks, so that the evolution of parameters such as voltages and temperatures can be observed and analyzed in order to control their correct operation and achieve preventive and predictive digital management of these assets. This initiative, which began to be deployed in 2018, has been progressively in crescendo and during the next three years Endesa plans to install, spread throughout the Catalan counties, around 27,800, reaching approximately 50,200 in 2025.
The digitalization, therefore, extends, as the company explains, throughout the distribution network infrastructure, from its systems and processes to the customer service channels: "with its use, the focus is on improving the quality of supply to customers, so as to reduce supply interruptions and response times in the event of incidents, whether these are their own or those caused by external agents".
In addition, it is also taking advantage of the potential of big data and artificial intelligence to improve operations in an increasingly data-driven decision-making process. Among the projects underway, the company highlights the Network Digital Twin, the digital twin of the network, an exact replica of the assets with which simulations can be carried out under all possible conditions. This digital twin opens the door to data-driven network management, real-time monitoring of the operation of the various components, preventive maintenance and more efficient interaction with field personnel.