Electricity distribution operators successfully kept the lights on for the world during the lockdowns imposed in the initial stages of COVID-19 emergency.
Now, the perspective of gradual reopening of economic activities and restart of commercial and industrial sectors also relies on seamless technical and operational functioning of power grids.
Following the recent publication of a joint research paper on Urban mobility, Enel Foundation teamed up once again with Guidehouse, a leading global provider of consulting services, to offer a webinar looking at practical lessons learned and insights on operational post-COVID recovery plans as Europe begins to reopen.
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Enel Foundation’s work in depth
The webinar shared knowledge from leading European electricity Distribution System Operators (DSO), Enel and UK Power Networks, both committed to ensuring reliable power supply and safe deployment of their workforce as major economies like the UK and Italy redeploy commercial and industrial activities.
Senior Executives from Enel and UKPN contributed to the webinar while Livio Gallo, Head of Global Infrastructure and Networks (GI&N) of Enel Group and Board Member of Enel Foundation, gave an introductory speech focusing on the Group’s initial response and particularly on the coordination of the power distribution activities across the eight countries in Europe and South America where they supply electricity to more than 70 million customers.
Francesco Amadei, Head of Operation and Maintenance at Enel’s GI&N division, then focused on business continuity best practices on the gradual recovery of field activities as they return to pre-COVID volumes. The executives illustrated how the company has partially released remote working for up to 15-30% of the operational workforce, sharing some of the individual preventive and protective measures they are putting in place to ensure safety at all times.
Basil Scarsella, CEO of UK Power Networks (UKPN), highlighted their comprehensive recovery plan during the crisis, while continuing to manage the electricity distribution networks of strategic areas of UK such as London, and East and South East areas of England, representing 19 million customers. For UKPN the lessons learned included the importance of regular and consistent communication with staff and customers, and of having the appropriate governance to be able to quickly review, access and adapt the daily management of the new challenges.
Next steps for electricity distribution operators
During the Q&A session, moderated by Benjamin Grunfeld, a partner in Guidehouse’s Energy, Sustainability, and Infrastructure segment, and João Duarte, Deputy Director of Enel Foundation, many questions focused on the topic of what’s next for DSOs in the pathway to recovery. The common answer was that COVID-19 emergency demonstrated solidity of DSOs as network operators and is confirming their key role in the energy transition.
In Enel’s case, as pointed out by Livio Gallo, “the enabler role of the DSO was highlighted even more in this moment of emergency. Our long-time strategy of digitalisation and platformisation of the energy sector revealed its importance in this moment with limited access to the sites, allowing us to continue to manage services and guarantee supply, reducing any field operation”.
Click here to know more about Enel Foundation collaboration with Guidehouse.