Tech giant Microsoft and European natural gas utility Snam have launched their first Cloud and Internet of Things (IoT) project for energy networks.
The duo signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) last year to develop solutions together that would enable the digital evolution of energy networks using the aforementioned technologies.
Since the MoU was signed, they have started to develop what they’ve dubbed a ‘hybrid cloud’ infrastructure. This hybrid cloud is set to help Snam to leverage greater data processing capacity alongside IoT to manage its network in a more efficient and flexible way.
The ability to acquire, process and enhance greater amounts of data will lead to services such as predictive maintenance operations and forecast analysis of energy demand through neural networks.
By next autumn, the two companies are aiming to create a digital architecture capable of delivering certain services from the cloud, including commercial applications serving users of the gas systems.
It will also be capable of acting as a platform for the integration of IoT, artificial intelligence and machine learning systems to help make Snam’s infrastructure network smarter, with the transition to this hybrid cloud to be done through Microsoft’s Azure.
“Cloud Computing, IoT and Artificial Intelligence 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,” Barbara Cominelli, COO and marketing and operations lead at Microsoft Italia, said.
Digitalisation forms a key part of Snam's programme for innovation and the energy transition, into which the company is investing €1.4 billion (£1.3 billion) as part of a €6.5 billion (£5.9 billion) overall plan by 2023.
"The digitalization of our 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," Claudio Farina, executive vice president of digital transformation and technology at Snam, said, adding that the collaboration with Microsoft was a "key element" in its digital evolution.