Green Hydrogen, Machine Learning, and Digital Twins Among Clean Energy Innovations Showcased at Annual Innovation Forum
AVANGRID (NYSE: AGR), a leading sustainable energy company and part of the Iberdrola Group, hosted its sixth annual Innovation Forum yesterday, entitled “Accelerating the Transformation”, which featured some of AVANGRID’s most innovative approaches to converting the grid to green power.
“We are at an unprecedented moment in our world’s history,” said Pedro Azagra, AVANGRID Chief Executive Officer. “The global community has acknowledged the risks posed by climate change, and together AVANGRID and Iberdrola have an important role in the collective effort to transition to clean, sustainable energy.“The clean energy transformation presents new and difficult challenges as well as valuable opportunities. Today, we saw an amazing demonstration of how our company is innovating to meet those challenges and seize these opportunities for the benefit of our customers, our communities and our shareholders.”
Former Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Robert Klee kicked off the event with a keynote talk describing how clean energy policy can be a catalyst for private-sector innovation. Klee’s talk drew insights from his time as a state energy policy leader and from his current role as Managing Director of Clean Energy Programming at Yale Center for Business and the Environment. “The climate crisis requires urgent action from a policy, innovation, and capital deployment perspective,” said Klee. “Companies like AVANGRID and Iberdrola bring opportunities for global innovation to accelerate the energy transformation in the United States.”
Energy-sector innovations showcased by AVANGRID, the country’s third largest renewables operator, included “digital twins” for onshore wind gearboxes that predict wear-and-tear on mechanical components and automatically trigger precautionary maintenance to minimize downtime for the renewable power generators.
The company’s networks business, which serves more than 3 million customers across Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts and New York, showed how tapping into images from low-earth satellites can provide high-resolution images of the electrical distribution network to gain insights for better storm response and vegetation management that were previously costly and difficult to acquire.
“As an academic and a research scientist specializing in the optimization of large-scale energy systems, I’m pleased to see an industry partner like AVANGRID putting so much emphasis on innovation in the renewables sector,” said Andy Sun, who is the Iberdrola-AVANGRID Professor in Electric Power Systems at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Sun co-led a panel discussion with other leading energy researchers on the next phase of technology disruption facing the sector. The panel was also led by Emmanouil Anagnostou, Dean for Research of the School of Engineering at the University of Connecticut and the Founding Director of the Eversource Energy Center, and by Manel Martinez, Endowed Chair and Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at The University of New Mexico and a member of the NM SMART Grid Center Decision Support Research Group.
AVANGRID invested more than $90 million on energy innovation projects in 2021 and is on track to increase that investment this year. The company operates approximately 8.4 GW of wind and solar generation and is a leader in the emerging offshore wind industry with 2.4 GW contracted, including its landmark 800 MW Vineyard Wind 1 project, a 50/50 joint venture with Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners.
AVANGRID and global partner Iberdrola also highlighted their growing portfolio of state-of-the-art green hydrogen projects targeted at decarbonizing heavy transportation, and hard-to-electrify energy intensive industrial processes like fertilizer manufacturing for the agricultural sector. Agustin Delgado, Iberdrola Chief Innovation Officer, and Santiago Bañales, Managing Director of Iberdrola Innovation Middle East, also participated and presented at the event.
“AVANGRID and Iberdrola have consistently been ahead of the curve in the development of renewable energy markets, from onshore wind to offshore wind, and now the same is true for green hydrogen, which is truly a promising tool for the global goal of decarbonization,” said Azagra. “We’re bolstered in our dedication to lead the green hydrogen market by the tremendous interest and support the Biden Administration is providing through its Hydrogen Hubs initiative and landmark clean energy legislation.”
In addition to next-gen technology, the annual innovation event also celebrated the next generation of talent, headlined by the more than 30 students from Cornell, UConn, Harvard, MIT, Rochester Institute of Technology and Yale who participated in the AVANGRID Innovation Challenge and the company’s inaugural Clean Energy Hackathon event. Both the Innovation Challenge and the Hackathon paired teams of students with AVANGRID subject matter experts to develop solutions to some of the energy sector’s biggest challenges. Challenge winners receive a $10,000 tuition scholarship and the Hackathon provides cash prizes to first-, second- and third-place student teams. This year’s winning Innovation Challenge team was led by Shiang-Wan Chin and Akshay Ajagekar, PhD candidates at Cornell University, who developed a case study exploring the applications and impact of quantum computing for the utility and renewable energy sectors. The Hackathon winners were Nick Page, Perry Bakas, and Himanshu Krishman, MBA candidates from the Yale School of Management, who delivered a data-driven solution to the problem of strategically deploying electric vehicle charging stations in just 32 hours of number crunching.
“Leading change requires us to invest in innovation and the talent and technology that drives it,” Azagra said. “The path to a cleaner future depends on our ability to modernize and expand our grid infrastructure – the backbone of our country’s energy system. As such, AVANGRID will play a central role in enabling this transformation. The work we do is vitally important to shaping the world in which we live.”
About AVANGRID: AVANGRID, Inc. (NYSE: AGR) aspires to be the leading sustainable energy company in the United States. Headquartered in Orange, CT with approximately $40 billion in assets and operations in 24 U.S. states, AVANGRID has two primary lines of business: Avangrid Networks and Avangrid Renewables. Avangrid Networks owns and operates eight electric and natural gas utilities, serving more than 3.3 million customers in New York and New England. Avangrid Renewables owns and operates a portfolio of renewable energy generation facilities across the United States. AVANGRID employs more than 7,000 people and has been recognized by JUST Capital in 2021 and 2022 as one of the JUST 100 companies – a ranking of America’s best corporate citizens. In 2022, AVANGRID ranked second within the utility sector for its commitment to the environment and the communities it serves. The company supports the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals and was named among the World’s Most Ethical Companies in 2022 for the fourth consecutive year by the Ethisphere Institute. AVANGRID is a member of the group of companies controlled by Iberdrola, S.A. For more information, visit www.avangrid.com.
About Iberdrola: Iberdrola is one of the world's biggest energy companies and a leader in renewables, spearheading the energy transition to a low carbon economy. The group supplies energy to almost 100 million people in dozens of countries. With a focus on renewable energy, smart networks and smart solutions for customers, Iberdrola’s main markets include Europe (Spain, the United Kingdom, Portugal, France, Germany, Italy and Greece), the United States, Brazil, Mexico and Australia. The company is also present in growth markets such as Japan, Taiwan, Ireland, Sweden and Poland, among others.
With a workforce of nearly 40,000 and assets in excess of €141.7 billion, across the world, Iberdrola helps to support 400,000 jobs across its supply chain, with annual procurement of €12.2 billion. A benchmark in the fight against climate change, Iberdrola has invested more than €130 billion over the past two decades to help build a sustainable energy model, based on sound environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles.