Digitisation, over 80% of utilities dedicated investments

The study of the Utilitatis Foundation in collaboration with Agici

Increasing commitment towards digitization for the industrial sectors of energy, water cycle and waste management. Italian utilities have invested almost 300 million euros in the last year (297) in technologies such as smart meters, computerization of company processes, remote control and hardware and software development for network management. This is what emerges from study ‘Digitalization of utilities: the key to making production more efficient, improving processes and guaranteeing the transparency of public services of the future’created by the Utilitatis Foundation in collaboration with Agici and presented today in Milan at Palazzo Emilio Turati.

Along with the manufacturing sector, the study reveals, utilities are today the industrial sector which, after the banking and financial sector, at national level records the highest level of spending on artificial intelligence, contributing significantly to the big data analytics market, which in Italy has reached a value of 2 billion euros in 2021, with a growth of +13% compared to 2020. In 2021, 82% of utilities have made at least one investment in digitalisationbetween the use of digital technologies, the evolution of organizational models and innovation in business models.

Italy boasts the world record for the diffusion of smart meters in the electricity market (98%), to which must be added 73% of smart meters for gas (second best figure after Holland).

The water sector however, it is late: although only 1.3% of the total users served register the absence of meters, there is still a lack of a widespread smart metering system, which could allow consumers to use water more rationally and consequently reduce consumption . In the energy sectorin the face of relatively limited investments for the digitization of assets, improvements in production and efficiency of between 2-10% are estimated, but above all a reduction in costs between 10-30% and an extension of the useful life of the generation plants up to at 5 years old.

In the waste management, digitization at the service of the punctual rate is an enabling factor that can allow for an increase in separate waste collection by up to 30%. For the water service, digital centralized control determines benefits in the order of 15% of losses avoided, 30% of energy saved and 20% of productivity.

For the president of the Utilitatis Foundation, Stephen Pareglio, “this study demonstrates how recourse to digitization is widespread among utilities, especially those more open to change and innovation. The sector has become aware of the advantages that can derive in terms of cost reduction, optimization of production processes, the useful life of the plants and, last but not least, the rational use of environmental and energy resources. However, we note that these technologies are not spread homogeneously in the sector and among the various functions performed by utilities: therefore, there is ample room for improvement, in relation to which our study puts forward numerous and practicable proposals for intervention”.