Intelligent Technologies for Renewable Energy. ENGIE: an SAP Innovation Awards 2022 Winner

Introduction

Renewable energy production is critical to realizing the vision of a sustainable future.
Fully renewable and sustainable energy production comes with its own set of unique challenges and difficulties as companies need to deal with cutting edge technology, sensors, and processes all of which produce an enormous amount of data that is often very difficult to manage.

The following example showcases how SAP S/4HANA Cloud and SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP) were able to help a customer, ENGIE, increase its operational efficiency, reduce costs, and facilitate maintenance, thus allowing them to make the most of their renewable energy sources.


ENGIE was selected as a winner of the 2022 SAP Innovation Awards, an annual award that celebrates the efforts of forward-looking companies and individuals who have harnessed the power of the latest SAP products.

The Challenges

ENGIE, the French multinational utility company, is the focus of this story. As a global leader in energy and services with a low-carbon footprint, ENGIE is committed to reducing energy consumption and implementing environmentally friendly solutions to accelerate the transition toward carbon neutrality.

With the transition to zero carbon, renewable energy plants are on the rise every day. Maintaining competitiveness involved improving energy efficiency and reducing losses. These constant demands prompted their decision to move to renewable energy with predictive maintenance in solar farms.

However, there were obstacles that hindered ENGIE’s economic value and its reliable, efficient and sustainable electricity mix:

  1. Disruptions in solar power delivery: to maintain optimum performance, repetitive maintenance tasks such as cleaning and component replacement are also required, as is dealing with failure rates.
  2. Inefficiency in scaling solar capacity: real-time sensor data and maintenance records are one of the main plant assets but are often hard to store and utilize.

For ENGIE, these challenges represented an opportunity to transform and digitize its operating models, processes, data, and technology, allowing it to create an organization that can easily adapt. ENGIE sought out the right technology and service support from SAP to accelerate its growth roadmap.

The Solution

The challenges accentuated the need to use data in an intelligent way to optimize the effectiveness of maintenance activities, whether corrective, preventive or predictive. The decision was made to turn to SAP’s scalable technologies and implement SAP S/4HANA Cloud, which serves as the platform that integrates ERP systems used by ENGIE entities worldwide.

A wide array of SAP solutions was utilized to best suit the business needs. The SAP Business Technology Platform(BTP) provided a robust and sustainable architecture capable of integrating SAP IoT by connecting sensors to solar panels, and Big Data was collected from real-time sensors and maintenance records of the key assets at the plant.Intelligent cloud integration was achieved with SAP Integration Suite, and end-user reporting was made possible with SAP Analytics Cloud.

With SAP Intelligent Asset Management, the company built a Photovoltaic (PV) plant engineering model and integrated it into EPD (Enterprise Product Development). Physical sensors are associated with their corresponding equipment in Asset Central and the theoretical performance of the PV plant is calculated based on factors such as temperature, solar radiation, and wind speed.

SAP Predictive Asset Insight (PAI) was deployed to compare theoretical performance with actual performance and detect anomalies using all sensor data.

By setting up a Digital Twin, the company was able to predict and optimize maintenance in a digital instance, simulating the impact of a change before it is implemented. The power system’s health could be tracked remotely down to component level, allowing ENGIE to use cost-benefit evaluation to optimize maintenance activities.

The Result and Outlook for the Future

After the successful implementation of the systems, ENGIE was able to free workers from repetitive tasks, saved carbon emissions by avoiding unnecessary travel, and anticipated maintenance spending. The accuracy of the digital twin enabled the ENGIE team to successfully determine the precise location of several broken fuses at the very moment of their failure, and schedule maintenance accordingly. The digital twin would also provide ENGIE with the ability to anticipate component failures and optimize maintenance activities of their assets.

The adoption of the Digital Twin contributed to Creating synergies across the Group by leveraging local best practices and resulted in the following milestones:

  • Ability to monitor and control solar plants with 100% reliable generated alerts.
  • Installation of 7600 solar panels in the scope of the digital twin project.
  • Cost reduction for the maintenance of solar panels and inverters.

ENGIE has clearly put digital innovation at the core of its strategy to combine strong growth in renewables with improved asset efficiency warranting it an enterprise benchmark for asset management innovation, and it will continue to accelerate its drive toward renewable energies (50GW by 2025 and 80GW by 2030).

In this case, SAP S/4HANA Cloud and SAP Integration Suite were key to ENGIE’s commitment to sustainability by combining strong growth in renewable energy and an improvement in asset efficiency. Through the digital twin concept’s revolutionary approach to optimizing resource efficiency and energy production, the story serves as an illustration of how companies can lead the way to sustainability and climate change in the future.

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