Smart Grid Labs: the sound of grid digitalization

Gianluca Sapienza, Head of Smart Grid, and Amadeu Fernades de Macedo, Head of Research and Innovation, speak about our laboratories in Qui Futuro a series of podcasts in collaboration with Enel and Chora Media that portrait places and people engaged in the energy revolution.


The future starts now, from a simple act like doing the laundry. This simple example illustrates the concept of flexibility and its role in the energy transition. Flexibility is among the main areas in which a group of our colleagues works on Gridspertise’s digital solutions in our Smart Grid Labs, a “network” of living labs located in Italy, Brazil and Spain. They are the theater of studies and simulations necessary for grid modernization, and every day they show how work in synergy is the key to tackle the challenges of the power market.

Recently Gianluca Sapienza (pictured at the top of the article), Head of Smart Grid, and Amadeu Fernades de Macedo, Head of Research and Innovation, have been featured in the podcast Qui Futuro: an audio reportage about people who are committed to the energetic revolution and that covers the most innovative projects narrated directly by the voices of the protagonists. Listening to this series grants exclusive access to our Smart Labs in Milan and São Paulo: a unique opportunity to gain insight from Sapienza and Fernandes de Macedo about the groundbreaking activities taking place inside. 

Gianluca Sapienza’s “Adventures” in the energy innovation dreamland    

Gridspertise’s Smart Grid Lab in Milan is Sapienza’s Wonderland, the infrastructure is likened to the enchanting world depicted in Lewis Carroll’s masterpiece, Alice’s Adventures. In these premises, the Head of Smart Grid, together with nearly 20 technicians, carries on tests and simulations to recreate different grid scenarios, in order to prevent fluctuations in distributed generation, and possible failures caused by severe and unexpected weather conditions.

These simulations have impacts in our everyday life, as pointed out by Gianluca Sapienza we are approaching a future in which electricity will play an even more crucial role thanks its versatility and efficiency. Furthermore, renewable sources of energy, such as photovoltaics, are more sustainable and allow the self-production of electricity, while gas - to make a comparison - cannot be produced in the same way. According to Sapienza, this will drive the trend to electrify domestic consumptions and to meet this growing demand of electrification, we need to get better control over our energy use in order to be incentivized to wisely change our habits and be more flexible, as for example postponing the laundry by knowing the time of the day in which we can leverage our rooftop solar energy. To help users gain more awareness, and to fulfill this goal, electrical grids require a high-level digitalization and automated communication and control. This system integration, key to enable a new use of electricity, is carried out in the Smart Grid lab.

From Milan to São Paulo, test after test we contribute to digitalize the grid 

The second guest featured on the podcast was Amadeu Fernades De Macedo, who is the Head of Research and Innovation and oversees the São Paulo Smart Grid Lab. Despite the significant distance of 9,523 km (5,915 miles) and differences in the electrical grid infrastructure, the two Gridspertise laboratories cooperate and work as a unique team: they bridge their geographical and technological gap sharing knowledge and expertise. 

Particularly, the Brazilian lab is dedicated to Smart Grids and Metering technology development, testing, TCA (Test and Conformity Assessment) and approvals processes at regulatory bodies. The lab works as a research center in which knowledge from electronic, electrical, mechanical and embedded systems engineering or firmware are put in place for the development of our products. 

Working in synergy 

Model tests on protection and control are conducted using a real-time digital network simulator that allows to replicate hundreds of different failures and special conditions. These operations are realized in perfect synergy between the two different labs. As underlined by Amadeu Fernades De Macedo: “We have elaborated a very complex study for the proposition of solutions for the detection of high impedance faults or broken cables. Our Italian colleagues realized the simulation on a specific protection configuration, once the initial study was finalized, in the Brazilian lab we did the relay configuration, and conducted simulations”. 

At this point, both teams in Milan and São Paulo compare their results confirming synergy is pivotal: in spite of differences, the whole team effort in our Smart Grid Labs plays a crucial role. 

Behind a simple act of doing the laundry at the right time, there is a power distribution grid that is becoming more and more flexible, able to connect the growing spread of distributed energy sources and to maximize renewables to accelerate, in a sustainable way, the energy transition. 

From Italy to Brazil, we contribute test after test to create a digital a modern distribution grids and enabling a more sustainable lifestyle through the use of electricity.

Listen to the podcast

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