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An antenna in Silicon Valley for the grid of the future

Terna is observing California's ecosystem of technologies and start-ups in order to seize the best development opportunities and launch partnerships with the most innovative businesses.

What is innovation? Innovation means scouting, networking, creativity. But it is also a journey that can lead to the other side of the world in search of new solutions able to boost the growth of a company and its professional assets. This is the goal driving Terna’s international “innovation antenna” launched at the Mind the Bridge Innovation Center in San Francisco, and its innovation journey, through which professionals from the company that operates Italy’s electricity transmission grid have the opportunity to immerse themselves in an innovation ecosystem that for decades has been the birthplace of epochal ideas that have changed the world. Here, at the very heart of Silicon Valley, Terna’s collaborators can connect with the people who work there, gaining a full understanding of the dynamics that govern and support innovation.

«At the start of our innovation journey we mainly focused on the Italian start-up scenario» explains Daniele Vitullo, Head of Ideas and Solutions Scouting at Terna. «Over the last three years or so we've started to broaden our horizons and look at technologies and start-ups from the rest of the world, focusing in particular on Silicon Valley».

«The quantity and quality of the innovation developed by a company depends heavily on its internal culture and its desire for change and to develop new solutions».

The result? As well as meetings and collaborations with start-ups, institutions, Italian and international businesses and prestigious universities, there has also been a shift in the approach to innovation that improves and enriches those that adopt it: «As well as engaging with start-ups and exploring new technologies, we are perceiving the value generated by direct relationships: we are interacting with so many players operating in the complex innovation ecosystem and with other professionals from large companies, including Italian ones, sharing experiences and knowledge» Vitullo continues.

A delegation from Terna, composed of innovation, dispatching and engineering specialists, and led by Oriana Calò who coordinates Terna’s activities in California, took part in the first Innovation Journey of 2023 entitled “Grid of the future”. Terna's professionals had the opportunity to engage directly with businesses in Silicon Valley, enriching the outputs and enhancing activities that are usually conducted virtually, thus broadening their horizons. The four days of activities, held between 12 to 15 June, involved opportunities for reflection and debate on issues such as innovative technologies and materials for the grid, vehicle to grid planning and grid development, and the management of renewables energy sources.


Terna also uses robots to inspect its high and extra high voltage power lines (photo by Terna)

«The quantity and quality of the innovation developed by a company depends heavily on its internal culture and its desire for change and to develop new solutions. By looking for solutions and introducing our colleagues to international contexts with capital and mechanisms that promote the consistent evolution of technology, we are able to continually develop our approach to innovation, drawing synergies between the opportunities identified and our strong internal skillsets» notes Marco Pietrucci, Head of Innovation at Terna.

Innovation Journey

The group of Terna professionals who took part in the Innovation Journey in San Francisco (photo by CAISO)

Thanks to experiences like these, the number of solutions being proposed increases dramatically, but so too does the suitability of those solutions to the company's needs. The facts say it all: equipped with the ideas developed in California, Terna is developing projects on robotics, augmented reality and undersea cables in Italy.

Vehicle to Grid

Vehicle-to-Grid technology enables cars to engage in smart electricity exchange with the grid, transforming them into a valuable resource for the entire electricity system (photo by Terna)

After its début visit in 2022, this year the company has decided to consolidate its presence in Silicon Valley by inviting key members of its core business team to take part in innovative projects in San Francisco, such as the one that has just concluded. This will be followed by another project in the second half of 2023, which will involve other Terna departments in specific activities such as asset management. The company will explore new solutions and ideas that involve the use of robotics and applied artificial intelligence.

«Once again, our goal is to respond to the needs and challenges of the company that we identify each year, providing new tools and technologies to support the evolution of Italy’s electricity system throughout the energy transition», concludes Marco Pietrucci.

Find out more about Terna's culture of innovation