Naturgy considers innovation as the
function that enables it to guide and
drive the advances required, access
them and apply them effectively in
accordance with the targets set out in
its Strategic Plan. Accordingly, it has an
innovation policy based on principles
that provide the framework for the
introduction of guidelines, objectives
and goals, which serve as guides for all
The innovation model, promoted by Senior Management, is based on the concept of synchronised innovation, in which roadmaps, plans and action programmes have been defined in all businesses and areas of activity: technology, market, commercial, regulation and social. In addition to covering innovation in the product and in the process, the company includes innovation in those cross-cutting and support areas, such as marketing, organisation and social.
The company encourages innovation to form part of the people’s everyday activity, developing motivating work environments that foster the generation of ideas, and promoting entrepreneurship schemes that allow them to innovate in a more flexible way and transform themselves according to changes in the environment.
Likewise, Naturgy opens up its innovation processes by sharing its challenges through partnerships and by taking part in innovation forums focused on the value chain and geared at securing common objectives. Thus, it partners with public administrations to identify the general development needs and define innovation plans within its scope of action. The company continues to hold a presence at the different leading entities and institutions of the energy sector, as well as on the different technological platforms such as the Spanish technological platform for electricity grids (FutuRed), the Spanish Energy Efficiency Technological Platform (PTEEE) or the interplatform of smart cities (GICI), among others.
In this way, through innovation, Naturgy contributes to the capture of efficiencies, to the development of new business models and to the vision of the customer at the centre, a key element in obtaining competitive advantages in the markets and achieving sustainable development of its activity.
Naturgy’s innovation model is
structured through priority innovation
lines, in line with the targets of the
Strategic Plan that sponsor and support
businesses. The company defines four
strategic innovation areas: energy
transition, digitalisation, customer at
the centre and new business models.
To develop this plan, Naturgy uses a twin-focus push & pull innovation model. The former, which focuses on the development of own technological solutions that respond to the challenges set out in the Strategic Vision. The latter focus seeks the pull of the open innovation ecosystem to find business opportunities, ideas and talent.
This innovation model is based on the concept of synchronised innovation, defined by roadmaps that collect the main insights of the environment and guide actions to take advantage of inroads in technology. The roadmaps incorporate a strategy of implementation and commercialisation, regulation and legal support and communication aimed at society perceiving the value of the company’s actions.
The information contained in the roadmaps is structured around four axes:
Design to win
NG, RNG, P2G
Vessels, trains, etc.
Solutions and customer
Customer O&M Centre
Distributed generation and self-consumption
New customer service channels (Chatbots)
New products and services based on IoT and AI
management Condition based
Sensor systems, IoT and AI
Robots, UGVs and UAVs
New business models
The innovation plan is structured around priority lines of action to help achieve the goals set in the Strategic Plan. In this plan, innovation is supported by five multidisciplinary working networks and eight technological innovation areas.
Taking into account that the use of LNG reduces emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and particulate pollutants with respect to other fuels, Naturgy is taking specific actions to improve LNG, since it is the fuel both of and for transformation, as the European Union considers in its latest strategic plans..
This energy is the technology that supports renewable electric generation, and is the only real and feasible solution while storage research is being carried out.
The main objective of the company in this line is to strengthen transport infrastructure, storage and distribution of LNG, at all levels, to promote its use as an alternative fuel to traditional oil derivatives. An outstanding example of this is the LNG on Wheels project.
The DirectLink LNG project, Universal Floating Transfer System (UTS) developed between 2016 and 2017, has been awarded the Platts Award for the best project in the Emerging technology category. This is an integral patented solution for the transfer and bunkering of LNG from ship to shore with minimum environmental impact.
LNG on Wheels (2017-2018)
The aim of the project is to enable the reliable supply of LNG to industrial customers of up to 50 MWe, even in remote locations.
The project involves an LNG tanker vessel able to resupply itself from a small carrier off- shore, anchored near to the closest port to the customer. Once in the port, the LNG is distributed directly through tanker lorries.
Naturgy is committed to energy efficiency and renewable energy, within the framework of a global transition towards a low carbon economy, both in Spain and worldwide.
Activities have focused on the monitoring architecture of wind farms, the role of renewable generation in supplementary services of the system, and greater control over the useful life of the assets.
|Renewable generation projects: wind|
The aim of the project is to develop a system capable of assessing in real time the consumption of structural life of a wind turbine, based on the development of aeroelastic models, structural instrumentation and the manufacture of smart models.
During 2018, the company has maintained its commitment to the introduction of new technologies both in areas of environmental control as well as in the establishment of mobility systems and remote monitoring, without overlooking the improved performance of its hydraulic facilities.
In 2018, tests continued on the different cells available for use in new solar plants. In addition, innovations have been made in the O&M of existing plants.
|Renewable generation projects: solar|
|Solar-Photovoltaic Laboratory Durango, Mexico (2017–2018)||
This laboratory aims to perform tests on different solar panels from among the most commercialised solutions, analysing the most important O&M parameters.
In addition to continuing with the testing activities, the second phase of the project involved installing solar trackers, the acquisition and installation of new bifacial modules and the development of software application for monitoring and data analysis.
Naturgy addresses innovation in energy storage as an improvement and integration of renewable energies. Naturgy actively takes part in different working groups where the use of storage technology is debated in the areas of interest for the company.
|Renewable Hybridization- Storage La Vega I & II wind farm (2017–2020)||
The objective is to test the performance of the system and the behaviour of different storage technologies in real conditions, to improve the manageability of the energy delivered to the system at these types of plants. It will start with the installation of a vanadium flow battery in the first four months of 2019.
In its commitment to minimise the impact that its industrial activity could have, the company is carrying out a range of technological developments at its facilities, through projects such as Turbo-reflex. In addition, the company continues to work to improve the efficiency of its coal and combinedcycle plants, by introducing solutions to extend the useful life of its facilities.
|Projects to reduce emissions and efficiency in thermoelectric generation|
The Turbo-reflex mission is the development and optimisation of technologies applicable to the main equipment of combined cycles, to modernise both the existing ones and the new ones, so that they allow a more flexible operation, providing adequate support for renewable generation. Specifically, Turboreflex will assess the technical and economic impact on O&M costs.
The main company’s challenges in this line are focused on achieving greater automation of the grid (remote action, reduction of cut-offs and interruptions, improved operational efficiency and maintenance and increased energy performance) and greater interaction with the customer (energy efficiency and active management of demand).
Actions have focused on the production of biomethane from biogas, on methanation with hydrogen and on the gasification of solid biomass to promote the use of renewable natural gas.
Naturgy is currently involved in several projects at national and European level, aiming to provide renewable natural gas generated from renewable resources, and through which different processes can be fed into the distribution network of natural gas, with the right quality for subsequent application.
Naturgy works together with technological partners to develop new sensors of low consumption and low cost that can be deployed in the different types of grid. Likewise, and with the help of the new data-processing techniques and technologies, different solutions are being undertaken that will enable predictive operations.
Development of solutions that enable control of energy to guarantee the correct balances of energy throughout the gas and electricity network. The aims of this line include improving the detection of fraud, lowering the cost of this detection and transferring the best results among the different pilot schemes.
It allows us to supply small nuclei far from transport infrastructures and to introduce unconventional gases to the grids, achieving a circular economy pattern.
|Project to revitalise gas networks|
|Smart Green Gas (2014 – 2018)||
In this project, the company’s main goal is to obtain a smart system to measure the quality of biomethane during the integrated production process.
This project, which will extend until the end of 2018, studies the treatment of biogas obtained at the waste treatment plants and its conversion into high quality biomethane, with a concentration of 95%, to be able to be fed into the gas network or used as vehicle fuel.
Naturgy continues to make efforts in the digitalisation of the electricity distribution grids. The increase in the level of monitoring and control of medium and low voltage grids will allow a better integration of new customers and could transform them, if the regulation allows, into new resources for the distribution system operator.
The paradigm shift of electricity distribution and the appearance of two-way energy flows means that the distributor has a new role in the grid operation. The improvement in the observability and controllability of grids is crucial for the integration and optimal management of energy flows. Naturgy must prepare the grids to facilitate these new forms of energy generation and consumption in order to ultimately develop new business models. Innovative solutions are being tested for this purpose.
The automation of the electricity grids together with technological innovation and interaction with the customer give rise to a new model of digital grid in which the digital infrastructure deployed is showcased, improving the accuracy of grid information, performing active management of the infrastructure and including the customer in the information processes.
In order to efficiently manage the grid and optimally assign resources, it is necessary to have more and better information on assets and properly manage their risks.
|Electricity grids 4.0 projects|
|GALA Project – Advanced Management of Overhead Cables (2019 - 2020)||
The aim is to achieve safer and more efficient inspection and more precise and environmentally friendly management of vegetation in the vicinity of overhead power lines, making good use of the new technologies of 3D digitisation, automatic image analysis and advanced risk management. It comprises the following phases:
In the Smart Client area, the company is focusing on providing products and services with high value-added for different types of end customers.
This action line is based on the implementation and validation of solutions targeted at optimising both energy management of residential and tertiary customers as well as utilizing the flexibility of these to provide services to the network.
IoT digital solutions and products that enable us to segment and get to know our customers better in order to offer them recommendations and customised products and services.
The main purpose is to provide the importance necessary to the data through innovative tools and to achieve usage cases that are highly beneficial to the company’s different business.
|Smart Client projects|
|GrowSmarter (2015 - 2019)||
In 2018, the most relevant actions were:
Energy efficiency is still a key area for Naturgy. The company is focused on improving procedures to increase energy efficiency in all links of the energy chain. It is determined to provide customers with information and services to help them improve their energy efficiency and to reduce the environmental impact of their energy consumption and habits.
Through different projects related to buildings, Naturgy develops new passive and active solutions to adapt the product portfolio to new efficiency requirements. Heat recovery in the industrial sector has been the object of different developments during 2018, and this will continue to be the case.
Naturgy simultaneously maintains its commitment to sustainable mobility solutions. The company is implementing nationwide vehicular natural gas charging infrastructure for public use. The company is also taking part in a range of EU programmes for the purpose of providing Europe with transport corridors that make it possible for road transport using lorries that run on LNG. In addition to extending the supply network, the company pays special attention to improving energy and economic efficiency of the service stations.
In the rail sector, Naturgy is working on an initiative to introduce the first railway traction pilot test with liquefied natural gas (LNG) in Europe. In the maritime field, Naturgy is testing new propulsion systems which, thanks to the combination of gas engines, electric propulsion and thrust systems, improve the energy efficiency and sustainability of this type of transport.
Lastly, in the field of electric mobility, the company has also undertaken its first steps in the development of cargo infrastructure of different types.
|Public station vehicles||5.815||3.030||2,070|
|Public service stations||32||30||27|
|Private service stations||19||20||17|
|Energy efficiency and mobility project|
|PIDIM – Smart Platform for the Sizing and Design of Multigeneration Facilities (2017-2019)||
This project has the purpose of designing, developing and introducing a smart platform for the sizing and design of facilities for the distributed generation of heating and cooling electricity. This computing platform will operate in the cloud, receiving data such as consumption and responding with the most suitable energy solutions for the client. The activity in 2018 has focused on the design and development of most of the tool’s modules, obtaining a fully functional initial version by the year-end. In addition, extra functionalities have been added, such as the calculation and integration of the demand associated with the charging of electric vehicles.
The area of robotics, sensor system and advanced information management is a cross-sectional area that aims to bring together projects already being developed in the company to gain synergies and enhance results. This area is home to the most disruptive technologies that will form part of the technological ecosystem, such as robotics, artificial intelligence, sensor systems, IoT, Blockchain, etc.
Development of both software and hardware solutions that allow the automation of the gas and electricity grid via sensor systems and advanced management of information.
Development of solutions that enable control of energy to guarantee the correct balances of energy throughout the gas and electricity network.
The main objective of this line involves using automatic solutions to perform certain operations, mainly heavy, repetitive and hazardous ones, autonomously to facilitate the tasks of Naturgy employees.
Analysis of the role of renewable generation in the market of complementary services.
Design of the monitoring architecture and development of the model to lengthen the useful life at wind farms.
This line seeks the cross-sectional involvement of the whole company in the evaluation of the application of VR/ AR and BIM technologies in the sphere of activity.
|Projects for the digitalisation of gas networks|
|Energy Harvesting UP4 (2017-2018)||
The aim is to capture energy to feed sensors that will be installed in the gas network. The pilot project consisted of the test, at laboratory level, of a device based on a sheet of piezoelectric material to generate small amounts of electricity. The device is put into a gas tube and energy is produced through the flow interaction structure.
During 2018, the company has continued with the development of a digital innovation management system, capable of incorporating the policies, methodologies, processes and tools necessary for execution of the innovation activity in the company. Progress is being made towards a highly flexible model that is able to incorporate best practices and to update them as appropriate.
The support and technological transfer department aims to provide support to the group’s businesses in the optimisation of their exploitation, by incorporating new technology and technological knowledge.
Of particular importance in 2018 is the ongoing collaboration with institutions of the technological environment, chief among which are the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), the Gas Technology Institute (GTI) and the American Gas Association (AGA). In more general areas, it is also worth mentioning the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Both areas are integrated through support activities that cross-reference needs and possibilities, and through transfer activities to obtain the appropriate expertise and incorporate the most up-to-date technology. During 2018, these activities have required the work of 35 ad-hoc groups deployed in different units.
Technology watch represents a major component as a source of information for the company, to facilitate decision-making in the management of technologies identified as key and to form a basis of self-knowledge for the organisation. At Naturgy, there is coordination with Technological Observatories, in which 160 experts from the company’s different units take part, ranging from purely technological aspects to those of a commercial, regulatory, social or market nature.
During 2018 the activity of these groups has been consolidated, gradually increasing their activities and contributing value, for example with the creation of technological roadmaps or with participation in forums and reference associations in their area. In addition, during the year the Pathways workshops were held in which the various observatories shared the analysis they are carrying out, the state-of-the-art of different technologies, and their impact and applicability at Naturgy.
In 2018, Naturgy promoted different initiatives that foster entrepreneurship and the development of innovative projects, partnering start-ups, universities, research organisations, entrepreneurs and public administrations for the purpose of speeding up the development of new products and services, and introducing new technologies that transform the company’s processes and operations.
In its commitment to intrapreneurship, and for the purpose of taking advantage of all its internal talent, in 2018, Naturgy created four groups with specific challenges of high impact on businesses. These groups have worked using Agile methodology, showcasing their application throughout the entire value chain of businesses.
Open innovation is a new model of relations between companies with external players such as universities, start-ups, research centres and entrepreneurs, to promote collaboration and the exchange of ideas.
In 2018 Naturgy has worked on improving open innovation by identifying the entrepreneurial poles of the sector.
|Sponsorship and participation in open innovation initiatives|
|South Summit 2018 (Madrid, España)||
Naturgy has taken part in the most important event of the innovative and entrepreneurial ecosystem of Southern Europe, which was held in Madrid at the beginning of October. For the third consecutive year, as an Innovation Partner, Naturgy presented its initiatives in relation to entrepreneurship and its open innovation model. The meeting allowed the analysis of more than 60 start-ups, of which 22 were of potential interest, with intrapreneurial initiatives that could contribute to the solution of the different innovation challenges posed by the company.
|Highlighted programme from the corporate accelerator and incubator|
This is an entrepreneurial programme promoted by InnoEnergy and Naturgy. The aim of the programme is to foster technology transfer and entrepreneurship in the field of clean energy.
In the third edition of the Cleantech Camp, a total of 70 projects were submitted from emerging companies in Spain and Portugal. From all the projects received, fifteen were selected for mentoring by experts to develop their business plan over a four-month period. Naturgy has had special follow-up in five of the selected start-ups.
The Barcelona and Madrid innovaHubs are spaces of innovation created to encourage open innovation in the company through the opening and traction of the ecosystem, in order to identify new solutions and business models, promoting knowledge, organising activities that raise awareness of the latest technological trends, connecting with the entrepreneurial ecosystem, and providing a space for the co-creation of new services and solutions that redefine the future of the energy sector.
The mission of the Technology Centre is to serve as an initiator and facilitator of innovation at Naturgy. It has three main objectives:
In the different spaces created in previous years, the most outstanding activities of 2018 have been:
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