Innovation & digitalisation

How innovation works for us

Every company today wants to be innovative. But what does that mean in concrete terms? How does innovation work for us? What is Axpo doing in World 4.0?

What's key is that we want to use the opportunities offered by digital transformation innovatively and strategically to manage existing business areas more efficiently and develop new, profitable business areas.

At Axpo, digitalisation is therefore an important topic and a key factor in the new Group strategy 2018 to 2022 and in the innovation process. Processes (such as accounting) and customer interfaces have already been digitalised in many areas of the company. We work in cooperation with partners such as ETH Zurich in regular hackathons and are active in areas such as machine learning, robotics, blockchain and the Internet of Things. Drones and sensors are also used for various purposes and to optimise costs.

Innovative energy solutions

With innovative services such as long-term power supply and purchase agreements ('Power Puchase Agreements/PPA'), Axpo has succeeded in consolidating its market position as an international leader in energy trading and the development of tailored energy solutions for its customers. Axpo offers renewable energy investors individual and long-term power purchase agreements at guaranteed purchase prices. This makes it possible to build new photovoltaic and wind power plants that are not subsidised with a fixed feed-in tariff. There is also great interest on the part of consumers. Many energy-intensive industrial companies want to commit themselves sustainably and rely on a long-term, cost-effective, reliable energy supply from renewable sources. With its PPAs, Axpo supports the development of renewable energies and thus helps to produce climate-friendly electricity and reduce CO2 emissions.

Any questions? Read on – you can find concrete examples of Innovation@Axpo here...

Drones inspect the grids

They buzz overhead and sometimes distrub the relaxing coffee break on the terrace: Drones are widely used today. At Axpo, they make sense in the grid area to maintain a reliable electricity network. Drones make it possible to efficiently inspect approx. 7500 power masts and our lines, which are around 2100 kilometres long. Their impeccable condition is a prerequisite for the safe and reliable transport of electricity.

TTo date, only overhead linesmen have regularly monitored the condition of masts and conductor cables. Now they get support from the air. With the drone, system inspections can also be carried out when lines are switched on, which increases the availability and saves costs. UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) can also take high-resolution photos from optimum viewing angles - even in hard to access locations. The photos help to assess any damage and to define repair measures.

And by the way: Drones are also available to other companies as a service. 

Hydropower plant 4.0

By using state-of-the-art technologies in the area of hydropower, Axpo expects to create even more attractive jobs, greater efficiency, less administration and better utilisation of investments. Switzerland's first digital hydropower plant was successfully implemented as a pilot project in Sarganserland.

With the experience gained from the Hydro 4.0 programme, Axpo Hydro Digital now offers a comprehensive service portfolio for the digital transformation of hydropower plants. With the Digital Compass, hydropower operators can benefit directly from this experience and receive an assessment of their current situation, including the potential benefits for the new digital way of working. Specifically, the services in the area of analytics serve to collect technical and commercial data from hydropower plants, make it easily accessible and use it to support decision-making. In the Workforce area, the operational processes related to the operation and maintenance of the hydropower plants are supported digitally throughout. And the new infrastructure enables the teams in the hydropower plants to use the digital services anywhere and at any time with mobile devices and secure communication. The Axpo Hydro Digital department is responsible for the productive implementation, introduction, operation and support of all these services. Are you looking for a challenge in this exciting environment? You can always find our current vacancies here.

Discovery never stops! That's why we have launched a new pilot project. With the first experiences of drones, autonomous boats and 3D modelling, 9 exciting use cases are running under the title "robotics@hydro". The central question here is: Where can we support the employees on our plants with imaging processes in their activities so that they have to expose themselves to fewer dangers, get the relevant information more quickly or are alerted to important changes? By the end of 2022, we want to complete these use cases in order to develop productive services from them and expand our service portfolio if the proof of concept is positive.

Artificial intelligence for wind power marketing

In Spain, Axpo has successfully launched a project to help market its large wind power portfolio even more successfully on the Iberian wind exchanges. The aim is to improve wind forecasts in order to obtain a precise as possible forecast of actual wind energy production and to minimise the difference between forecasts and production.

The big data project is based on artifical intelligence algorithms and machine learning. This means that the forecast model is trained and improved every night on the basis of the latest data.

Axpo is now gradually introducing the new forecasting methodology internationally in other European markets as well.

ERIS makes the grids secure

The quality of the electricity grid is key to security of supply in Switzerland. The better the grid, the more reliably electricity can be transported to your home at all times and in sufficient quantities. Axpo has developed a new method for measuring and assessing the electricity grid. It gives security of supply a value at the click of a mouse and supports  investment planning in a targeted manner. The ERIS methodology is based on sophisticated software that takes all grid-relevant parameters into account. A total of 39 different factors are calculated, weighted and evaluated. ERIS can also be used to compare different variants for network optimisation. This helps to optimise costs. As a grid customer, you benefit because the grid costs included in the electricity price (approx. one third of the total amount) decrease. 

Axpo also offers ERIS as a service to other network operators. More details about Eris: 

Control via smartphone

In the still relatively young wind industry, the topic of digitalisation has already arrived. At the Axpo subsidiary Volkswind, for example, each wind turbine is equipped with two systems which continuously monitor operation and route any defects directly to the smartphones of the responsible service technicians. All data on the system, such as temperature, wind speed, etc. can, of course, also be retrieved online. Each wind turbine also feeds a huge database with which its efficient use can be controlled.

More about Volkswind:

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