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Molecules September 2022: Eurogas delegation visits Italgas headquarter and the Digital Factory in Milan

On 19th and 20th September, Eurogas Distribution Committee was held in Milan at the Digital Factory, the innovation hub where Italgas develops proprietary cutting-edge solutions. The Digital Factory is aimed at supporting the ecological transition and digital transformation of the infrastructure and energy sectors.

A driving force of Italgas’ digital transformation, the Digital Factory designs and implements innovative technologies, paving the way to a more sustainable future. It is based on agile and design thinking methodologies to achieve results that have an impact in the shortest possible time, breaking down the boundaries of the internal functions and hierarchies.

The location was perfect for the DIST Committee to discuss the future of networks digitalisation and of Italgas’ innovation journey. Italgas presented its vision about the strategic role of gas networks in contributing to the achievement of the climate goals set by the European Union as envisaged also in the REPowerEU.

Gas distribution networks represent a fundamental asset to foster the introduction and development of renewable gases such as biomethane, hydrogen and synthetic methane. In order to do so, they must however be digital and flexible, capable of transmitting data, and receiving and executing instructions remotely. The digital transformation is therefore the main enabler of the energy transition. That’s why Italgas has been implementing an important digitalisation plan that will make it the first utility in the world with a fully digitalised network by 2023.

The company installed digital devices capable of transmitting and receiving information in real-time, introduced IoT technologies for the massive acquisition of the physical parameters of the network and created intelligent algorithms to translate this information into business insights and actions. Italgas is now able to intervene in a timely way in all the relevant events occurring on the network through remote and automated management system. This is thanks to a new digital solution for gas distribution network management developed by the Digital Factory and known as DANA (Digital Advanced Network Automation). This system allows in-depth analysis of the status of the distribution network and the acquisition of physical parameters in real time. By using a Human Machine Interface (HMI) support and interface, DANA allows remote instructions to be given to the infrastructure or to adjust the network’s operating parameters in order to optimise its operations.

DANA began operating in January 2022 on distribution network of a small municipality near Milan, the first natural gas distribution network in the world to be managed entirely remotely. Italgas currently plans to gradually extend its use to all the networks managed by the Group, and that currently cover about 74,000 km in Italy. The visit to Italgas Digital Factory complemented an intense two-day work program of the DIST Committee, during which various relevant dossiers were examined, including the Gas Regulation and Directive, the Methane Emissions Regulation and the ACER Guidelines for TYNDP. Most importantly, it further encouraged a collective reflection on the ways in which digital solutions can facilitate the achievement of energy transition related goals.