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11.09.2023 | Axpo Innovation Week: Engineering Power Conference 2023

About robots and floating PV plants

The Engineering Power Conference will be held for the third time on 12 September. This is an internal event where employees from the entire Axpo Group present current topics and innovations from their working environment in short "innovation talks". The short presentations are intended to inspire, surprise and excite. The internal event is open to all Axpo employees and this year will also be made partially accessible to the interested public via Axpo channels.   

Axpo employees from all over the world will come together in Baden on 12 September 2023. Networking and innovation will be at the forefront alongside the technical speeches. The event is the centerpiece of an innovation week during which Axpo will highlight innovative topics and stories within the company on its social media channels and website. For the first time, individual speeches will be made available to the interested public. "At the Engineering Power Conference, we celebrate the Axpo Group's engineering culture once a year - it's a place where we can be impressed and inspired for our work. The depth of knowledge around the energy industry in this group is an important reason why we employees chose to work for Axpo. And it feels great to experience so much of it in one day." says Thomas Gresch, host of the Engineering Power Conference and Chief Technology Officer at Axpo. The speeches will cover a wide range of topics, from floating PV systems and data analyses to current projects from Axpo's departments, for example in the areas of battery storage or hydropower. A selection of these will be recorded live and then made available to the interested public.    

Robots in the nuclear power plant

Innovation is an important part of the work of the various departments of the Axpo Group. This is also the case in nuclear power plants. Here, too, there are approaches that are presented at the Engineering Power Conference. The Leibstadt nuclear power plant recently tested "Spot": a robot designed to support employees in their daily work.   

Spot - who resembles a robot dog - has already enchanted the Internet community many times with his dancing skills. At the same time, Spot is also a commercially available industrial robot that can take on tasks in areas that are potentially dangerous for humans. "We want to find out whether robots can be used in a complex facility like a nuclear power plant," says Philipp Blomen, who is responsible for the "Nuclear 4.0" innovation programme at Axpo.    

Driving hydropower forward with QR codes 

Innovative topics also exist in hydropower. Emil Bieri, Head of Digital Transformation at Axpo Hydro, is particularly intensively involved in this area. At the end of last year, Bieri presented the "first digital power plant”. at the Sarganserland power plants. "Their evaluations make work much easier and basically turn everything that has existed up to now upside down," says Emil Bieri, not without pride.

It gets technical on a tour of inspection with a fitter in the power plant. His tool: a tablet. All 24 employees of Kraftwerke Sarganserland have been equipped with mobile work devices. Using the camera function, the technician reads the QR code of a plant part. Its comprehensive maintenance history immediately appears on the display. "You can't look up more information anywhere so quickly," he emphasizes. 

Charging revolution thanks to CKW 

But innovation in the energy sector does not only affect colleagues in Axpo's power plants and departments. They can also have a direct impact on the everyday lives of people in Switzerland. Take CKW's "Smart Charging App", for example. At the beginning of the year, the Axpo subsidiary presented the first smart electric car charging app for Switzerland. It enables electric cars to be charged more cheaply and at the same time stabilises the electricity grid. Most electric cars are plugged into the charging station at home in the evening after driving home - more or less all at the same time. The "CKW Smart Charging App" is designed to prevent the resulting high load on the electricity grid after work. It shifts the charging of the battery to a time when the load on the grid is lower. The charging app thus has a stabilising effect on the grid and can prevent the need to import coal or gas power. As a side effect, it can also earn money.

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