Microsoft, Snam team up on IoT and AI to build ‘energy company of the future’
US tech giant Microsoft and Italian natural gas utility Snam are developing a hybrid cloud infrastructure based on Azure to raise the processing power within Snam’s IoT sensor network, to bring efficiency and flexibility to its operations. The deal will help to build the energy company of the future”, they said.
The pair signed a memorandum of understanding last year to develop cloud-based data analytics solutions to improve management of energy networks using IoT sensors and software. They said they will deploy a digital architecture by “next autumn” to deliver services from the cloud, including commercial end-user applications, and integrate artificial intelligence and machine learning systems to make Snam’s infrastructure network smarter.
Snam’s €1.4 billion SnamTec programme makes digital transformation the driver of the firm’s master plan for energy transition, which the firm has budgeted at €6.5 billion in the period to 2023. The SnamTec initiative defines the company’s strategy to “build the energy company of the future”, by increasing both the efficiency of its traditional activities, including cutting methane and CO2 emissions by 40 percent by 2025 and 2030, and its new business lines in biomethane, hydrogen and sustainable mobility.
The arrangement with Microsoft for cloud-based IoT control and AI grunt will allow for the acquisition, processing, and interpretation of greater volumes of data, and see the company better positioned to provide predictive maintenance operations and forecast analysis of energy demand through neural networks.
Claudio Farina, executive vice president of digital transformation and technology at Snam, said: “The digitalization of infrastructure is essential to position Snam as a leader in the energy transition, allowing it to contribute to a new model of sustainable development for the benefit of all stakeholders and the territories in which we operate.
“For this reason, technological innovation is one of the pillars of SnamTec. The collaboration with Microsoft and the development of cloud, AI and machine learning technologies, combined with the skills of our people, are key elements in this evolution.”
Barbara Cominelli, chief operating officer and marketing and operations lead at Microsoft in Italy, said: “Environmental sustainability is crucial and we must all collaborate in the search for new energies, new infrastructure and mobility models, and greener processes. Cloud computing, IoT and AI are extraordinary enablers, because only after modernizing the infrastructure and digitalizing the systems can the energy transition and the transition to clean energy be accomplished.
“We share a strong commitment to sustainability and we are proud to collaborate with one of Europe’s most important companies in the energy sector in this crucial project for the future of the country. Through even more sophisticated management of the networks, Snam will not only be able to seize the opportunities linked to the evolution of the energy system, but [also] contribute to the sustainable development of our cities and communities.”
Snam is one of the largest Italian listed companies in terms of market capitalization. Through its subsidiaries, it operates in Albania (AGSCo), Austria (TAG, GCA), China (Snam Gas & Energy Services Beijing), France (Teréga), Greece (DESFA), and the United Kingdom (Interconnector UK). It is also a main shareholder in the TAP (Trans Adriatic Pipeline), which represents the final section of Europe’s so-called Southern Energy Corridor.