18.06.2020 | First steps taken in transformation process

World 4.0: Axpo in the digital age

Innovation is an important driver of the new Axpo strategy. Digital transformation was the basis for corporate change even before Corona. Axpo intends to use the opportunities offered by this process. In doing so, we are on a journey in World 4.0 and driving innovation forward.

For Thomas Sieber, Chairman of the Axpo Board and it’s team it was clear even before the current Corona crisis: To seize the opportunities of a dynamic energy market Axpo must be active and creative and focus on digital changes. "We will only reach our goals if we use the opportunities offered by digital transformation: We will become more networked, faster and more agile, better and more innovative."

Axpo hast already started this change process. For example Axpo has launched a pilot project at the Sarganserland power plant to make it the first digital power plant in Switzerland. Over 12 months, 20 different use cases were implemented. They will be tested under real conditions at the plant and analysed for their potential. First results indicate: Fewer routine tasks, less administration and fewer errors. Read more about the project in detail here.

Axpo is innovative and digital in other areas of Production & Grids as well.

  • Hydro 4.0 – Robotics: For example, tests are under way using drones to inspect power plant water catchments that are difficult to access or only reachable on foot. In a partnership with an ETH spin-off, special drones are used to inspect buildings, dams, difficult to access vertical shafts, surge tanks or pressure  tunnels. The drone flies a defined route along installed "wires" without GPS or satellite control and takes pictures to document possible damage or changes. 
  • Grids 4.0 – The digitalisation programme at Axpo Grids relies on the use of robotics and analyt-ics. The 2200 kilometre-long Axpo distribution grid and the 7500 power masts are inspected by means of drones. Thanks to aerial inspection, the power lines no longer have to be switched off, which increases power grid safety and reliability. The use of 3-D printing in the area of grids is al-so being investigated.

Big data project

Of course, machine learning and advanced analytics are also in use at Axpo. An application was developed to calculate more exact wind prognoses under a big data project. The results are used to optimise the trading strategy. The application uses machine learning and trains automatically overnight. This makes it possible to prepare trading recommendations that continuously evolve and adapt to market conditions.

Innovation on the construction site

Some more exciting innovation projects:

  • Green Accelerator: Together with GE Renewable Energy, the Axpo spin-off elblox launched a new PPA marketplace for renewable energies. The "Green Accelerator" platform helps buyers and sellers of renewable energies to conclude standardised power purchase agreements (PPA) for green electricity at the best prices available. In a fast, simple process, Green Accelerator organises regular auctions where buyers and sellers can select the most suitable PPA. The platform supports energy buyers in fulfilling their environmental and sustainability goals whilst reducing their power costs. It also helps energy sellers in hedging power price risks so that they can secure their long-term project investments.
  • emost: This is about the development, production and marketing of intelligent plug & play battery storage systems that can be used for flexible, climate-friendly power supply to construction sites, at events, in emergencies or with diesel generators. Five of these storage systems with a capacity of 25 kWh each have already been built – three are currently in the testing phase at construction sites. In a next step, the emost storage systems will be developed further and their use in Switzerland expanded. 
  • Smart energy innovation: Together with the German start-up Oxygen Technologies, in which CKW holds a 20 per cent share, the Axpo subsidiary intends to develop an intelligent energy platform for the Swiss market. A complete solution is foreseen where the owners of solar plants, heat pumps, battery storage system or e-charging stations can interconnect their infrastructure and optimise energy supply.
  • Pulsee: In the context of full market liberalisation in Italy, a new, purely digital brand for the mar-keting of power, gas and services to private customers (30 million potential customers) was cre-ated under this innovation project. "Pulsee" is primarily aimed toward a younger generation be-tween 25 and 35 years old, students, the flat-sharing community and innovators – people, who are accustomed to being on the move digitally. In addition to offering the least expensive power, Pulsee also provides services that suit their lifestyles, for example the invoicing process, green energy and CO2 footprint. 

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