Enel Box: the substations of the future, even more efficient, modular and sustainable

Published on Monday, 10 April 2023

The success of the energy transition will be determined by the progressive spread of renewable energy sources and the electrification of consumption, but this strategy inevitably relies on a grid that is capable of integrating the most modern technologies and the further expansion of the green energy market.

In this scenario, a key role is played by secondary substations, which transform medium voltage into low voltage and perform a crucial role in ensuring the efficiency and safety of the power grid. With this in mind, Enel Grids decided to launch an open competition on the crowdsourcing platform Enel Open Innovability® with the precise goal of making this infrastructure more modular, digital and sustainable. The new Enel Box concept was the result of this competition.

Eugenio Bini’s Enel Box concept won first place, revolutionizing the design of secondary substations including a reduced number of components and the use of recycled and eco-friendly materials. The design is simple and streamlined, on the one hand reducing the infrastructure’s carbon footprint and on the other, facilitating its ability to blend harmoniously into various settings whether they are urban, rural, modern or historical.

Furthermore, Enel Box was designed to maximize the capacity to hold advanced digitalization technology, including devices with decentralized computing ability and more sustainable transformers capable of optimally managing distributed generation and electricity flows that are increasingly bidirectional.

In addition, very careful attention was paid to the choice of construction materials that were selected following the circular by design approach that aims to reduce the environmental impact to a minimum. In addition, the limited number of components will facilitate economies of scale with benefits not only for the production processes but also for management and maintenance operations. The planning phase of the secondary substation design will be completed by the end of 2023, whereas the installation of the new Enel Grids electricity infrastructure in Italy will start in 2024, followed by all other countries in which it operates. 

“We need increasingly sustainable, resilient and interactive distribution grids so that we can enable the energy transition and accelerate towards a zero-emission future,” said Antonio Cammisecra, Head of Enel Grids. “It is precisely in order to achieve this goal that the Group has adopted the Grid Futurability approach and has teamed up with all stakeholders to rethink the key components of its grid infrastructure in an open and cooperative ecosystem. In the future we will be investing heavily in secondary substations; in fact, we have built one substation a day in Italy in the last year alone. Future substations will become symbols of decentralized intelligence for accommodating renewable generation in the best possible way, as well as flexibility and the new needs associated with consumer electrification.”

Sustainability, innovation, circularity, modularity: Enel Box represents another step towards the creation of an electricity grid that is even more innovative, digital, sustainable and capable of blending into the territory while respecting its identity and enhancing its beauty. All these aspects are in line with our Group’s mission to place the environment and people at the center of our commitment to the energy transition.

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