The industrial world now has to find a way of squaring the real environmental challenges (greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency etc.) with its economic imperatives. Digitisation is an essential catalyst for enabling this sector to accomplish its energy transition at minimum cost. How can digital help improve energy efficiency? Émilie Bouquier, director of Teréga Solutions’ “Multi-Energy and Digital Business Unit”, a Teréga subsidiary, provides the answers.
Émilie Bouquier - In an industrial setting, the digital transformation is a major catalyst for optimising the energy efficiency and economic performance of machinery. At present, most industries only use 10% of their data, which doesn’t allow them to put any significant actions in place. Usually, every industrial machinery supplier offers their own solution for viewing and exploiting the data from their machines. That approach makes it impossible to get an overall view and instigate actions that can be extended across the industrial site as a whole. Often, no-one even looks at the data.
The first stage in this sector’s digital transformation therefore rests on the collection and management of all that data. This is no small task. You need to be able to gather and store all that information in a single highly secure area.
At Teréga, when we embarked on our digital transformation, we realised there was no solution available that met all our criteria (data ownership, cybersecurity requirements etc.). So we decided to create our own digital tool so that it would fulfil all the requirements of a gas infrastructure operator such as ourselves: improving the technical and energy efficiency of our machinery assets, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, ensuring the security of our industrial information.
A graduate of the ESME Sudria engineering school, Émilie Bouquier began her career in 2004 as Project Management Officer (PMO) at Planitec, a project management specialist, before becoming a consultant for Accenture, and then IT Project Manager for AXA France Service. In 2013, she joined Teréga as IT Project Manager for the “core business” processes, subsequently becoming Manager of the Infra & Techno Department within the Transformation, Digital and Performance Department (DTDP). In 2021 she was appointed to the position of “Multi-energies and Digital” Business Unit (BU) Director at Teréga Solutions, a subsidiary of Teréga.
É. B. - The first building block of our solution, known as IO-BASE, is to do with the exploitation of industrial data. Our problem was how to “close” our industrial communication networks to make them secure, but still “release” data to make it visible. To do that we designed a box (INDABOX) that allows data to be gathered, while observing all the strong security constraints associated with Teréga’s gas transport and storage activities. Our solution also had to satisfy practical and economic requirements, so we wanted the box to be easily deployable on existing equipment.
In addition, Teréga absolutely had to retain ownership of all the data. In fact, the data acquisition systems offered by currently available solutions render the user “captive”. The data becomes the property of the service provider, and the industrial client only has access to a view window. Meaning that if the solution is changed, any previously acquired data will be lost. You need to start again from square one. In this respect, the IO-BASE digital platform offers a truly perennial solution, guaranteeing that the user continues to own their data, even if they decide to change the service provider who manages it.
Finally, our solutions must also fit into the digital frugality approach. This means we work solely with public cloud resources which, unlike energy-hungry privately operated datacentres, can optimise energy consumption according to actual usage by their clients.
É. B. - At the start of the business digitisation process, we needed to construct tailor-made tools for our traditional gas transport and storage activities. We soon came to realise that, to do that, we needed to create a team combining digital skills with knowledge of our business. Employees from our more operations-focussed teams joined our digital division, which changed its name to better reflect our ambitions: the Transformation, Digital and Performance Department.
That approach proved decisive, as did the spirit of innovation that Teréga has always nurtured. They told us: “You want to do it? Then do it!” That go-ahead attitude is important when you’re embarking on a transformation process, because each person feels they can legitimately bring forward their ideas and feed them into the debate. Of course, there are times when you get it wrong, but you still move forward!
Today, with the creation of the Teréga Solutions subsidiary and our Business Unit dedicated to “Multi-energy and Digital”, our aim is to offer our digital transformation and energy efficiency optimisation solutions to other actors, so that they can profit from our experience and expertise on the subject with a turnkey solution.
lower environmental impact approximately
more information gathered
reduction in transport
acceleration in making data available
The decarbonisation of our energy consumption will be achieved through the creation of a virtuous energy mix, one which is more varied, based on renewable energy that can be produced and consumed locally: wind or solar electricity, biomethane, hydrogen etc. When designing a multi-energy grid, you need to think about ways of producing the right energy for each particular need, and limiting losses.
In that respect, digital is essential for collecting and processing the data associated with the different forms of energy in real time. This is a prerequisite for ensuring that production adequately matches needs – and vice versa – and that all processes are operating correctly. Digital gives us the capability, whatever the problem, of acting quickly to resolve any imbalance on the grid.
Our long-term ambition is to be able to connect different energy producer and consumer sites into a smart grid to optimise energy efficiency across the board. A key feature of that interconnection would be capturing the energy wasted in industrial processes that could be used on another site. A focus of our work at Teréga is recovering that energy to make it consumable.
For example, the smoke expelled from certain sites comprises CO2. Rather than allowing this greenhouse gas to escape, we could combine it with hydrogen (H2) produced from spare electricity to give us synthetic methane (CH4). That methane has the same characteristics as natural gas and can therefore supply those industries that cannot run on electricity. A multi-energy system therefore allows us to support industry in its decarbonisation process without adversely affecting production methods.
E. B. - I’m fully in agreement with that idea. The next energy revolution can only happen with digital. However, that revolution will also have an impact on society, because it will not just affect the big players in energy. In a multi-energy grid, an industrial customer can become an energy producer. That multiplication of actors and connections must be reflected upstream to guarantee an economically viable model. That’s what we’re doing now at Teréga.
Industrial sites and other IO-BASE users are already playing their part in designing the multi-energy grid of tomorrow. By creating the digital twin of each site, we can simulate the interconnections between each of them, and the possible exchanges. This step is needed to raise awareness among current energy players and the authorities, but also to reassure industry by proving the benefits and future value of multi-energy to it.
Our “Multi-energy and Digital” team is working closely with Teréga’s IMPULSE 2025 project team, currently aiming to design a multi-energy pilot platform. Once again, it’s the alliance between expertise in the industry and digital that’s allowing us to get ahead of the game, anticipating all the technical and environmental challenges, along with the profitability requirements of this “energy revolution”. We’re moving towards a new energy market, with increasing numbers of “small” actors, and we need to think about it now.