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Innovation and technology

Innovation and technology

Snam will invest approximately Euro 2 billion with the aim of accelerating Snam's innovative capacity to transform and manage its assets in order to seize the opportunities offered by the evolution of the energy system.

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The innovation of our infrastructure to make it increasingly flexible, digital and intelligent is essential in making Snam a leading player in the energy transition, allowing it to contribute to a new model of sustainable development for the benefit of all stakeholders. The development of cloud technologies, artificial intelligence and machine learning, combined with the skills of our people, are key elements of this evolution.

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Claudio Farina
Executive Vice President Digital Transformation & Technology

The objectives that Snam has set itself for the short, medium and long term require considerable effort and investment in innovation, in order to always find the best solution from both a technological and a operational point of view. To this end, the Group will invest approximately
Euro 2 billion with the aim of accelerating Snam's innovative capacity to transform and manage its assets in order to seize the opportunities offered by the evolution of the energy system. These resources will contribute to the development of initiatives related to research and development, digitalisation and innovation to increase the capacity for real-time data transmission and analysis.

The most important experiment highlighting the advantages that digitalisation can bring to the energy system will be represented in 2021 by Snam's first "future" district, the Bologna "Flagship" District, which will be equipped with the most advanced technologies to measure results in terms of operational effectiveness, safety, integrity and reliability of assets.

Snam's innovation efforts are focused on three strategic areas:

Snam invests in activities aimed at improving energy efficiency and reducing emissions in its core business, in order to maintain a high level of performance and, at the same time, contribute to the combat against climate change. In 2020, Snam:

  • activated an Asset Control Room project with the aim of improving and innovating the management and operation of assets;
  • continued to test the application of the Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) system to detect and locate gas leaks along the gas transmission network;
  • completed the new Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) for the network (monitored and remote-controlled) and compression plants of Snam Rete Gas.

The new plan envisages investments of Euro 500 million in technological innovation and digital transformation. With this in mind, in 2020, Snam:

  • introduced a Digital Asset Model project, which aims to define a digital replica of Snam's assets, making it possible to interpret the data collected by sensors in the field, in a context similar to the real one. This model will enable the adoption of new asset management logics, such as remote management, network set-up simulations, augmented and virtual reality support for operators, and reduce the risk of accidents and optimise activities in the field, leading to a reduction in emissions;
  • signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at integrating and exploiting the opportunities of Cloud and Edge Computing, Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT). The Cloud Foundation programme will lead to the transformation of Snam's technical architectures through a hybrid and integrated model, called Hybrid Cloud, which will bring benefits such as greater resilience of services and business continuity, flexibility, greater speed in the activation of new services, scalability of technological infrastructures and acceleration of innovation;
  • completed the process of renewing videoconferencing systems in all the meeting rooms at the Campus and Territorial Offices, which has allowed, to date, total coverage of the meeting rooms in the area to be achieved with almost 200 areas equipped with the latest generation videoconferencing systems. Following completion o the digitalisation of spaces in the company was the installation of Surface HUB2 - Microsoft interactive whiteboards - in around 100 executive offices in early 2021;
  • the Gas Transport Network Asset Maintenance System (SMART GAS) project continued, a corporate initiative aimed at improving the effectiveness of technical and operational processes relating to asset maintenance activities. In particular, in October 2020, there was the golive of the Smart LNG for the maintenance unit while the development continues of the project for the operation and prevention and protection service unit. In addition, the dematerialisation of the territorial units' archives continued with the eDoc document system, which will be fully integrated into SMART GAS;
  • the Smartness Matrix project continued, arising from the need to analyse in a structured manner the requirements of data acquisition and management processes relating to the control and operation of transport, storage and regasification assets, to increase their levels of effectiveness and to identify the best technologies to support the entire remote control process;
  • studies continued on plant solutions for the construction of the SmartPipeline, with the identification and installation of new digital diagnostic and operating instrumentation aimed at making the gas transport network increasingly intelligent. This project has also been extended to the SmartPlant initiative, launched in 2020;
  •  the IoT Foundation programme continued, aimed at modernising the technological components supporting the systems that monitor and control the Group's network and plants in real time;
  • developed a first project, for control room support, based on the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms.

With a view to putting its infrastructure at the service of the energy transition, in 2020, Snam continued and launched several studies aimed at adapting the network to the transport of mixtures of natural gas and hydrogen (H2 ). In particular, the Group has:

  • started testing, in cooperation with suppliers, on gas turbines for compression plants to validate the feeding of natural gas and hydrogen mixtures with variable 10% hydrogen;
  • issued internal regulations to make the hydrogen infrastructure 100% ready by building new pipelines and adapting existing ones;
  • participated in research groups, specifically with the European Gas Research Group (GERG) and in collaboration with other European natural gas transporters, to detect and measure natural gas emissions from the gas transmission system, assessing the state of the art and selecting the most promising instruments accordingly, leading to the definition of a test programme for on-site measurements;
  • participated in Joint Industry Projects to study the effects of the presence of hydrogen on gas measurement systems, including by carrying out specific tests;
  • continued the Power 2 Gas initiative, a process through which electricity produced from renewable sources in excess of instantaneous consumption is transformed into hydrogen to be fed directly into the grid or used for the production of synthetic methane (SINGAS). In this area, a feasibility study was completed and basic engineering was started for a P2H pilot plant;
  • continued the Absorbed Natural Gas (ANG) initiative to store natural gas in tanks containing a porous sorbent, allowing larger quantities of natural gas to be stored than in an empty tank of equal volume.
  • participated in the European Pipeline Research Group (EPRG), a research association on pipeline issues to which the main gas transmission and pipe manufacturing companies in Europe belong. EPRG manages projects, subdivided into Design, Material and Corrosion, aimed at constantly increasing knowledge for the integrity management of pipelines throughout their life cycle (pipe production, line construction and pipeline operation). In 2020, the EPRG launched a series of projects to study the behaviour of steel, used in existing pipelines, with respect to the introduction of hydrogen in the mixture.
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Find more about gas role in the energy transition

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updated
07 June 2021 - 12:26 CEST