Electrolux, Enel, Indesit and Telecom Italia have signed an agreement to study and develop innovative services based on communications between the next generation Electrolux and Indesit appliances, Enel's remote management infrastructure – which allows remote control and management of power consumption – and the fixed and mobile broadband infrastructure of Telecom Italia.
The purpose of the "Energy@Home" initiative is to develop a system in which "smart appliances" will be able to manage themselves by adjusting power consumption of the entire house, thereby avoiding consumption peaks and overloads.
The project is a further step towards the development of the so-called "smart grids", which, in the future, will allow the transfer of information to appliances that will be able to "self-programme" depending on power supply and prices. By doing so, appliances will start functioning at non-peak (and therefore less expensive) times of day, avoiding meter shutdowns due to overloads and automatically balancing consumption without jeopardising the proper execution of cycles.
This innovative system will also provide users with information on their household consumption directly on their computer, cell phone or on the display of the appliance itself. With easy access to information on consumption and the possibility to download customised programmes to help save energy, consumers will be able to use their appliances in a "smart" way, with the aim of enhancing the efficiency of the entire system.
During the trial phase, each partner will contribute with its best and most innovative high-tech solutions: Enel will provide its remote meter management system and applications, customised to enable communications with telecoms infrastructure and household appliances; Telecom Italia will offer its fixed and mobile broadband network platform, which will rely on the advanced Alice home gateway and Zigbee wireless technology to enable the exchange of information between household appliances and Enel equipment. Electrolux and Indesit will contribute with prototypes of smart appliances and applications to manage connections and the exchange of information in order to regulate consumption.
The trial phase, scheduled to end in 2010, will involve selected consumers throughout Italia. Once the testing will be concluded, the opportunity to involve other partners will be evaluated, with the aim of creating the largest possible eco-system of interoperable companies.
Livio Gallo, Managing Director of Enel's Infrastructure and Networks Division, said: "We are pleased to partner with these leaders in their respective industries on a project that I am sure will bring major benefits to customers as well as the country. Here at Enel, we have long been engaged in projects aimed at energy savings and the development of smart grids, the latter being a sector in which we have globally recognized technical leadership thanks to our remote management system, which has seen the installation of 32 million digital metres with our customers."
Gianfranco Schiava, Managing Director of the Elettrodomestici Italia Division of Electrolux Appliances SpA, remarked: "Energy@Home" is an essential step on the road to sustainable development, an area where Electrolux has been a leader because, as we like to say, respect for the environment is part of our DNA. We are forming a real working group, where we will be providing our partners with top-class skills to offer customers a service that reconciles the needs of the individual with those of the system and advanced user friendliness."
Adriano Mencarini, Innovation and Digital Design Director at Indesit Company, noted: "This major project confirms Indesit's commitment to innovation to the benefit of the environment and consumers, a commitment that over the years has been acknowledged through prestigious international awards. We have also been pioneers in research into smart grids, one of the priorities on which we are also focusing in other important markets. We have two objectives: to help reduce electricity consumption while also fostering the development of an ecological conscience; and to offer increasingly innovative services to our customers."
Stefano Pileri, Head of Technology & Operations at Telecom Italia, said: "Besides confirming the role of Telecom Italia as a leader in promoting innovative "green communication" solutions, this important agreement demonstrates our commitment to creating sustainable ecosystems that are also open to other players. Open innovation underpins the work of this team, composed of the most innovative companies in our industries. Communication networks are a key asset for managing information in the new Green ICT Society."