The energy transition is also promoted increasing the production of a more and more decentralized renewable energy. This decentralization implies a strong development of new digital tools to manage both the real-time production of industrial parks and the monitoring of user consumption, especially for the users who are far from access to electricity grids and to optimize the balance between offer and demand.
The Group invested 1.5 billion euros in emerging technologies and digital between 2016 and 2018.
Digitalization is a strategic target for ENGIE. If digital technologies are required to support the energy revolution, there has been a growing awareness of their environmental impacts as well as their role in green project developments in recent years : these trends are now translated by “Green IT” and “Green by IT”
For these reasons, the Group IT sector integrates more and more the environment component of IT in each project and takes into account the two following concerns:
- On the one hand, continuous best efforts to reduce the environmental, social and economic footprint resulting from the information and communication technologies (« GREEN IT ») with an eco-responsible management of IT equipment, printers, smartphones, etc.
- On the other hand, increase the contribution of ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) to sustainable development projects ("GREEN by IT" or sometimes called "IT for GREEN"), by promoting ICT to support the Sustainable Development Strategy - and in particular by implementing software to manage the CSR strategy of the company through its CSR monitoring and reporting, by promoting tools to organize remote meetings and generate savings on travel expenses, by expanding dematerialization of documents to reduce paper waste, but also to measure the performance of sustainable and responsible purchases as well as to control the environmental and societal regulatory compliance.
To advance the « GREEN by IT” approach, one key leverage is to enhance consumer awareness of an eco-responsible use of digital technology. The "Guide for an eco-responsible information system" published (in French) by the WWF2 displays the statement of the main impacts of the ICT on the environment in a very educational way and describes several concrete actions that everyone can implement.
Digital technology: a strategic target for ENGIE
ENGIE is onboarding the energy revolution by focusing on digital technologies; for the Group, digitalizing is a key factor to perform a successful energy transition as displayed in the following examples :
- The widespread use of digital technologies could reduce production costs by 10% to 20%.
- Big Data and technological developments are deeply modifying the production and consumption models
- Habitat is becoming more connected.
- Declining energy consumption means promoting energy efficiency (Example of Vertuoz, a service for analyzing energy bills and identifying potential savings within a building)
- Piloting the energy efficiency of industrial sites is reducing their costs while remaining competitive. To achieve this goal, ENGIE has developed the blu.e solution , solution, a software platform for energy management help. It collects and analyzes thousands of data continuously to propose precise adjustments in order to maximize the energy performance of industries
- Developing smart grids makes it possible to adapt energy supply to real-time demand through Information and telecommunications technologies. With smart meters for electricity and natural gas consumers can monitor their energy consumption in real-time and generate energy savings; energy network operators can optimize energy management, anticipate potential failures and develop new services that are more efficient and environmentally-friendly
- Producing renewable and decentralized energy, using the Darwin digital digital platform to monitor and control the hydroelectric, solar and wind farms in real-time.
- Developing Microgrids which are local power generation units with an intelligent distribution network.
From "GREEN IT" to "GREEN by IT" at ENGIE
In 2016, GreenIT.fr performed a Green IT benchmark for the Club Green IT (of which ENGIE is a member) and its partners : the “College of Sustainable Development Directors (C3D) and the WWF France, with the e-RSE.net collaboration. This study involved 8 large private and public companies based in France - including ENGIE -, with a total of 515,000 users, nearly 3 million IT and telecom equipment and 56,400 m2 of server and computer rooms. It’s nearly the only survey which displays quantitative data in Europe on IT impacts on environment.
The analyzes of these workshops were targeting the following topics:
- Environmental impacts
- Responsibility and regulation
- Governance and monitoring
- Training and awareness
- Opportunities for the company
As part of this approach, one of ENGIE’s objectives was to measure the Information System ecological, economic and social footprint of one of its BU (France B to C) compared to its energy consumption, its GHG emission, its water consumption, its paper waste and its electronic waste.
ENGIE initiated an audit with this BU for which 5 environmental indicators were selected:
- Primary energy consumption (calculated footprint)
- Global warming potential / Greenhouse gas balance (calculated footprint)
- Water consumption (calculated footprint)
- Production of electronic waste (WEEE3 )
- Production of paper waste
For the year 2016, compared to the panel of the 7 other large French companies, the results obtained, per year and per user, are the following (the relative performances, in percentage, are expressed in green in the dashboard enclosed below):
Benchmark findings highlight four improvement areas to reduce environmental impact with efficiency :
- Lengthen the equipment life duration (manufacturing representing the major impact) ;
- Responsible IT purchasing ;
- Reduction of printing
- Increasing the part of electricity provided by primary renewable energy.
Based on these conclusions, ENGIE IT entity set up improvement target in 2 main directions, with priority action plans for each:
- Green IT governance and monitoring : perform an in-depth audit on outsourced services
- Responsible IT Purchasing: Including intangible services
- Expand the life duration: Increase the rate and time of re-use
Main Information system organization:
- Software: apply the responsible design approach for all digital services: Strengthen the requirements toward suppliers / service providers
- Workstations: Measure and reduce the volume of unused assets
- Telephony: Simplify / reduce the number of terminals
- Office printing means: Use recycled paper
- Computer & server centers: Consolidate to the best performing centers
These improvements require the contribution of all employees of the ENGIE Group.
This is why ENGIE's CSR is taking steps to raise the awareness of all Group employees about eco-responsible actions, especially in promoting the recycling approach and the consumption behavior regarding electronic and digital equipment.
1 ICT : Information and Communication Technologies
2 WWF : Word Wide Fund for nature (ex World Wildlife Fund)
3 WEEE: Waste of Electric and Electronic Equipment