TAURON Capital Group is carefully analyzing changes in the environment that affect its entire value chain. Its individual elements determine or are likely to have a significant impact on that chain in the foreseeable future.
We see an intense development and potential importance of distributed power generation sources, advancing digitization of the distribution grids and the change in the role of the electricity consumer, who, from being a passive market participant, is turning into its active player or even the so-called prosumer. We do not perceive the technological progress as a threat, but as an opportunity to become the sector’s leader of innovation.
R&D&I activities that TAURON Capital Group is placing a strong emphasis on in its Strategy, are reflected in the Strategic Research Agenda (SAB) adopted in 2018 and steadfastly implemented in 2020. Portfolio based management of research and development projects has been introduced by TAURON Capital Group as part of the Research and Development Area, in line with the priority directions of innovative as well as research and development activities.
SAB is a document that precisely describes the directions for the development of innovations and provides a more detailed elaboration of the Strategy. A separate project portfolio has been created for each direction, in which key challenges, development goals and research areas have been identified. Such a structure of the SAB supports the selection of specific projects and rejection of others, as well as allows for an optimal allocation of the financial resources.
SAB includes the following portfolios:
- Customer and His/Her Needs;
- Intelligent Grid Services;
- Distributed Power Generation;
- Low Emission Generation Technologies
This way TAURON Capital Group’s research and development as well as innovation activities are implemented and expanded based on the complete and detailed strategic assumptions – with the clearly defined goals and results set on the time horizon.
SAB is consistent with and complementary to the other strategic documents, developed or adopted by TAURON Capital Group, including, first and foremost, with respect to the investment (CAPEX) projects or asset management.
MAJOR ACHIEVEMENTS IN THE FIELD OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
In 2020, approx. PLN 40 million was allocated to the R&D&I area.
10 projects (including 8 start -ups) were launched in various lines of business. As part of four portfolios of the Research and Innovations Area, 54 projects with the total value of almost PLN 109 million were carried out. For the implementation of some of these projects TAURON Capital Group obtained funding from the external sources in the total amount of almost PLN 42 million.
There was a visible decline in the number of projects in 2020, both currently implemented as well as newly launched, which was caused in particular by:
- COVID-19 pandemic, the impact of which in the Research and Innovation Area results in a reduced number of new initiatives (the effect of delays in the implementation of the works commissioned to the external institutions, in combination with the curtailment of the operations of a number of institutions cooperating with TAURON Capital Group),
- redefinition of the portfolio of the R&D&I projects at TAURON Capital Group as a result of the Green Turn of TAURON (among others, the involvement in the conventional energy projects was significantly reduced).
Selected R&D projects implemented in 2020 by TAURON Capital Group’s subsidiaries, co-financed from the external sourcesExport to Excel
|1.||Development and testing of an adaptive electricity storage system based on the second life of batteries from electric vehicles.||National Research and Development Center (Narodowe Centrum Badań i Rozwoju – NCBR)|
|2.||System for assessing propagation and improvement of the quality of electricity in the distribution grids.|
|3.||Developing a platform allowing for aggregating the generation and regulating (adjustment) potential of the dispersed (distributed) renewable energy sources and energy storage devices (accumulators) as well as the selected categories of the controllable consumers.|
|4.||Integrated Grid Diagnostics System.|
|5.||Development of the industrial design of the carbonate fuel cells and ceramic electrolyzers enabling integration with the power-to-gas installations.|
|6.||Flexibility of the existing power generation units with limited capital expenditures.|
|7.||Development and demonstration of a computer system to be used for the operation control as well as availability and reliability management of industrial infrastructure based on artificial intelligence algorithms.|
|8.||Dispersed (distributed) energy solutions model 2.0 – self-balancing power grid areas.|
|9.||Development of an innovative system for effective monitoring and supporting of the protection devices compliant with the DMS assumptions.|
|10.||Development and implementation of the technological process for processing waste from fluidized bed boilers with the use of CO2 for the production of cement substitute.|
|11.||Development of the hybrid system for reducing the emission of acid components and fly ash from flue gases.|
|12.||Development of advanced technology for monitoring and predictive analysis of the technical condition of the boiler in order to increase the reliability of the boiler unit.|
|13.||Project TEXMIN – impact of extreme weather conditions on the mining operations.||European Union’s Coal and Steel Research Fund|
|14.||Project RECOVERY – assessment of the environmental management and the measures aimed to protect and repair it using tools to analyze the state of the ecosystem.|
|15.||Project MOBISTYLE – technology solutions that will allow for positively influencing customer behavior by raising the consumers’ awareness and feeling of ownership.||Horizon 2020 (Horyzont 2020): Framework Program with respect to scientific research and innovations|
|16.||Project UtilitEE – implementing a solution that will increase electricity consumption efficiency by actively engaging customers in their behaviors related to electricity consumption with the use of information and communications technologies and DSM mechanisms.|
|17.||Project GEMINI+ – developing a design of a high temperature gas cooled nuclear reactor (HTGR) for electricity and heat production.|
GRI EU DMA. Research and investment projects in 2020 aimed at ensuring the reliability of electricity supply and promoting sustainable development within the Group and by TAURON Capital GroupExport to Excel
|INVESTMENT PROJECT CATEGORIES||Investment project type – investment project name (broken down into categories in the table)||Investment project description||Costs (incurred in conjunction with the implementation of the investment project) PLN|
|Renewable energy technologies||Developing a platform that aggregates the generation and control (adjustment) potential of the distributed renewable energy sources and energy storage facilities (units) as well as selected categories of consumers whose demand can be controlled (managed)||The implementation works related to an innovative Virtual Power Plant platform (hereinafter referred to as “VPP”), developed in 2017-2021, – allowing for the aggregation of the generation and control (adjustment) potential of the distributed renewable energy sources, energy storage facilities (units) 2 581 652.72 and selected categories of controllable loads. Adaptation of the Lubachów Hydroelectric Power Plant (Elektrownia Wodna Lubachów) infrastructure to operate in the Virtual Power Plant mode.||2,581,652.72|
|TOTAL COSTS IN THE CATEGORY||2,581,652.72|
|Electricity distribution||Distributed energy 2.0 operating model – self-balancing power grid areas||The goal of the Project is to verify the technologies that would enable setting up of local power sub-grids, called micro grids. As part of the Project, a pilot micro grid installation will be built and tested in terms of: maintaining the balance and continuity of power supply, quality of electricity, operational safety from the perspective of the consumers, devices and networks, as well as economic aspects of the entire solution. Based on that, guidelines will be developed enabling the interoperation of 516 397.96 microgrids with the electricity distribution grid. The result of the Project will be a fully functional and tested pilot installation (operating in the actual conditions) as well as the detailed technical documentation of the solution, that would allow for its implementation both on the Polish as well as the foreign market.||516,397.96|
|MV/LV station monitoring system with a functionality enabling detecting events in the medium voltage grid||The goal of the project is to verify the technical assumptions and evaluate the business usefulness of the metering system provided by the company iGrid, selected as part of the startup support accelerator program: Pilot Maker. The system allows for a faster detection of some events occurring 32 823.78 in the medium voltage grid, based on the measurements on the 0.4 kV side, as compared to the solution based on the balancing meters, as a result of which it is possible to locate faults in the MV distribution grid faster.||32,823.78|
|System for assessing the propagation and improving the electricity quality parameters in the distribution grids (SOPJEE)||The project’s goal is to develop a system for assessing the propagation and improving the electricity quality parameters (SOPJEE) in the distribution grids. TAURON Dystrybucja’s existing metering infrastructure (more than 220 stationary and more than 200 mobile measurement points) will be used for this purpose, as well as a new, extended system for the monitoring and evaluation of the propagation of electricity quality parameters (JEE) will be built.||141,819.60|
|TOTAL COSTS IN THE CATEGORY||691,041.34|
|Transmission and distribution technologies||Distribution grid operation automation||Development of an innovative system for effective monitoring and support of the protection devices that meet the DMS (Distribution Management System) assumptions, along with the development of the protection controller prototype (including sirens) in the MV network.||861,333.27|
|Integrated Grid Diagnostics System||The goal of the project is to conduct R&D works aimed at developing a prototype of an IT system supporting the process of managing the population of HV/MV transformers based on the multi-parameter analysis of the measurement results (ZSDS for short).||1,367,442.27|
|TOTAL COSTS IN THE CATEGORY||2,228,775.54|
|Advanced technologies (storage, recovery, etc.)||Hybrid system for reducing the emissions of acid components and fly ash in the flue gases||The goal of the project is to test, in the conditions of a demonstration installation, a hybrid filter installed to replace an electrostatic precipitator. The hybrid filter responds to the market demand for a universal and flexible solution enabling the modernization of the existing dust removal and treatment systems or the construction of the new ones. In addition, the compactness of the solution allows for the installation of the device in places where the local conditions or the existing infrastructure prevents expansion or modernization.||115,641.20|
|Flexibility of the existing power generating units with limited capital expenditures||The project focuses on developing an improved flexibility control and monitoring system (IFCAMS) that impacts the flexible use of the coal-fired generating units. It is expected that the technology developed will allow the power plants to be operated efficiently, taking into account the new requirements for power ramp up/ramp down. The use of IFCAMS will shorten the power ramp up/ramp down time and will reduce the operating costs related to numerous unit failures (thanks to the reduction of the current technical minimum).||165,468.64|
|Development of the industrial design of carbonate fuel cells and ceramic electrolyzers enabling the integration with the power-to-gas installations||The goal of the project is to improve the chemical energy storage process (a substitute for natural gas, SNG), mainly based on the higher efficiency of the high temperature electrolysis and the use of the carbonate fuel cells for CO2 capture from the flue gases, which does not require the supply of electricity from the power plant to the capture system. In addition, both of the innovations introduced enable their integration on the heat and electricity generation side.||1,354,135.05|
|Energy storage systems for the DSO needs||Demonstration project involving the use of the stationary energy storage system as the grid operation stabilization element, Smart Grid element (ESS Cieszanowice).||6,263,305.49|
|Development and implementation of a technological process for reducing the HCl emissions in the flue gas from the fluidized bed boilers||The goal of the project is to adapt TAURON Wytwarzanie’s Generating Units in an optimal manner to the new environmental and market requirements, in force beyond 2021, related to the Commission Implementing Decision (EU) 2017/1442 of July 31, 2017 establishing the best available techniques (BAT) conclusions for large combustion plants. The works were carried out at the Siersza power plant.||69,863.36|
|Developing and testing an adaptive electricity storage system based on the second life of the batteries coming from electric vehicles||The goal of the project is to develop a prototype of a battery storage in two capacity variants, based on the reuse of the lithium-ion batteries from the electric transportation, and to test it, in 3 use cases, including the preliminary definition of the model of the production accompanying processes related to the transformation of the batteries for a new application and supply chain model.||158,229.69|
|Development and implementation of a technological process for the processing of waste from the fluidized bed boilers, using CO2 for the production of a cement substitute||The goal of the project is the construction and commissioning of a demonstration installation for the processing of waste from the fluidized bed boilers, using CO2 in the production process of the composites for applications in the construction industry and/or in the geo-engineering applications, to fill the post-mining voids in hard coal mining. The project is in line with the assumptions of the Circular Economy.||415,003.57|
|TOTAL COSTS IN THE CATEGORY||8,541,647.00|
|Innovative related services (e.g. remote meters)||Development of advanced technology for the monitoring and predictive analysis of the technical condition of the boiler to increase the reliability of the boiler unit||The origin of the project is associated with the need to improve the availability (dispatchability) of the 460MWe unit. The technologies being developed should definitely increase the efficiency and reduce the costs of the diagnostics of the heat exchange surface inside the boiler, improving its availability and increasing the economic efficiency of its operation. The goal of the project is to develop two complementary technologies/tools for the advanced diagnostics of the wear of the heat exchange elements inside the boiler. The first solution would be used for the precise (detailed) monitoring of the technical condition of the heat exchange elements inside the boiler, which could operate at high temperatures, the second solution would be used for the analysis and interpretation of the results obtained in the context of the prediction of the erosive wear of the heating surfaces of the boiler’s furnace chamber and the required repairs (overhauls).||938,333.84|
|Development and demonstration of a computer system for operation control and management of the availability(dispatchability) and reliability of the industrial infrastructure based on artificial intelligence algorithms||The goal of the project is to create a prototype modular computer system based on artificial intelligence algorithms to increase the reliability of TAURON Group’s generation infrastructure. The goal will be achieved through the creation of a hybrid IT infrastructure, which will include adaptive predictive/prescription models interoperating with the control systems, optimization algorithms, numerical models, databases, and algorithms controlling the health of the energy devices.||4,008,000.00|
|Internet of Things (IOT)||Developing the Internet of Things technology in cooperation with the city of Wrocław. The project’s goal is to develop and implement an IT architecture for collecting and managing data from the selected areas of a smart city, the deployed solution assumes scaling up with respect to the number of sensor devices and the functional areas supported. In the first phase, the project focuses on air quality monitoring, waste management, smart street lighting and parking areas management, subsequently the city road traffic monitoring functionality was added. The IT environment developed, along with the recommendations, will be the basis for creating and offering the ultimate product to the cities and municipalities.||1,116,700.00|
|HEMS (Home Energy Management System)||The goal of the Program, addressed to a retail customer, is to prepare TAURON Group to acquire a new revenue stream for the Group’s subsidiaries, by developing a strategy, organization and model for the provision of the services and selling products under HEMS, based on the existing as well as the new products and services. Activities related to HEMS focus on maximizing the energy potential of houses and devices, customer convenience and smart use of ecological products. To achieve these goals, modern solutions are used, i.e. artificial intelligence, smart home technology, etc.||115,163.20|
|TOTAL COSTS IN THE CATEGORY||6,178,197.04|
|TOTAL AGGREGATE COSTS||20,221,313.60|
COOPERATION WITH START-UPS
In 2020, activities were continued within TAURON Capital Group with respect to the cooperation with startups under external acceleration programs, as well as under the acceleration program of TAURON Capital Group – TAURON Progres (TAURON Progress). The programs are addressed to entities that have an innovative idea related to the areas indicated in the Strategic Research Agenda and are willing to cooperate in the development of innovative solutions that would allow for extending the current offering of TAURON Capital Group’s subsidiaries by adding the new products and services.
Scaleup acceleration programs (PilotMaker Elektro ScaleUp and KPT ScaleUp) announced and co-financed by the Polish Agency for the Development of Entrepreneurship (Polska Agencja Rozwoju Przedsiębiorczości – PARP) provided TAURON with the projects focused on the use of new, innovative technologies and solutions in the following areas: Electromobility, Industry 4.0, Internet of Things, Smart Grid (Network) Services. In 2020, TAURON expanded its cooperation with the startups also as part of its proprietary program, TAURON Progres, that enables reaching TAURON directly with an innovative idea. In accordance with the assumptions of the program, the participants have the opportunity to test their solutions with the use of TAURON Capital Group’s infrastructure and with the participation of experts from TAURON Capital Group’s subsidiaries.
Continuing to build the strategic position of TAURON Capital Group in the area of startups, TAURON carried out, in 2020, further investments under EEC Magenta – a CVC type fund created in 2018. EEC Magenta increased its investment portfolio to the amount of PLN 37.1 million in 2020 and currently has 6 innovative startups therein.
As part of the implementation of the activities related to the cooperation with the startups TAURON took part in the Govtech Program for the second time in 2020. The goal of the program is to enable the cooperation among the Ministries, local government authorities, State Treasury companies with the startups and small enterprises, which are selected, by way of a competition, as the ultimate contractors performing the tasks (Challenges) prepared by the contracting parties (employers).
The below table presents the selected projects with the startups carried out in 2020 as part of the acceleration programs, which are the subject of EEC Magenta’s investments and undertaken as part of the GovTech initiative.
Projects with the startups carried out in 2020Export to Excel
|PROJECTS||PROGRAMS AND ACTIVITIES RELATED TO COOPERATION WITH THE STARTUPS|
|1.||EV Charge: An electric vehicle charger (for cars and electric bikes) built into a composite street lighting pole, to be used to build an electric vehicle charging stations network based on the street lighting power supply.||Pilot Maker Elektro ScaleUp|
|2.||Born Electric: A charger for the micro-mobility vehicles (electric scooters and bicycles) and the batteries for the light vehicles (scooters) mounted directly on a regular street lighting lamp pole.|
|3.||MC2 Energy: Greenstock VPP Platform – a trading and clearing (settlement) platform for the RES micro-market for the needs of the green energy exchange, based on the blockchain technology.||KPT ScaleUp|
|4.||Nanobots Software: A platform for collecting, managing and standardizing the data coming from the devices located in urban space.|
|5.||Seedia: A range of urban small architecture products powered by solar energy, dedicated to the cities and municipalities, along with a system enabling remote management of the devices.|
|6.||Roboticon: Chatbot enabling 24/7 customer service on the tauron.pl portal, acting as a virtual assistant that supports customers in finding the content they are interested in.|
|7.||Assess24.io: A recruitment platform based on challenges, i.e. the tasks that test the knowledge of the candidates and at the same time constitute the initial stage of the recruitment process.|
|8.||NNT: A measuring device designed for quick and non-invasive diagnostics of long steel elements and a diagnostic system that uses magnetostrictive pulses to quickly diagnose damage.|
|9.||Billon: Durable (Non-volatile) Information Medium – a system based on the blockchain technology that enables reliable and unchangeable publishing of any data, providing a full range of functions for the digital data management.||TAURON Progres|
|10.||Cash Director: CDigital Financial Assistant (Cyfrowy Asystent Finansowy) – a web application targeted at micro, small and medium sized enterprises, which enables conducting online accounting, as well as providing the accounting service with the used thereof.|
|11.||Reliability Solutions sp. z o.o. offering a solution responding to the problem of maintaining the process (operation) continuity in the manufacturing industry and the high costs of production downtime, i.e. the predictive maintenance system, which, through the use of artificial intelligence algorithms analyzing the data collected from the devices, predicts the possibility of an occurrence of a failure.||EEC Magenta– companies in the investment portfolio of the CVC-EEC Magenta fund|
|12.||Take Task S.A. offering a solution responding to the problem of managing dispersed groups of employees, i.e. a platform for mobile communication, creating and distributing tasks, as well as collecting feedback at enterprises where numerous groups of employees do not use computers every day.|
|13.||Sinterit S.A. launching on the market unique solutions with respect to prototyping and production of short series of spare parts and offering high precision 3D printers to distributed designer teams for the price of a consumer product.|
|14.||Challengerocket sp. z o.o. offering a solution that responds to a market problem with respect to recruiting top-class computer programmers, i.e. a platform. made available under the SaaS formula, for automatic evaluation of programmers using tests with a self-adapting level of difficulty. Based on the artificial intelligence technology the system enables quick and reliable assessment of the candidates’ skills.|
|15.||ICSec S.A. offering the Scadvance system, composed of software and a hardware probe, enabling the monitoring of the process control networks and the detection of potential threats and anomalies in traffic among the devices of such network using the big data, machine learning and artificial intelligence mechanisms. The system provides comprehensive protection both in the case of ultra-modern factories as well as older types of industrial installations and is dedicated primarily to energy, manufacturing and chemical companies.|
|16.||Cash Director S.A. developing the Digital Financial Assistant (Cyfrowy Asystent Finansowy) platform enabling the digitization of accounting processes at micro, small and medium sized enterprises, which can replace the traditional accounting services and make it easier for the owners to make optimal financial decisions.|
|17.||TAURON announced the need to develop a system and application for assessing the ability to build and evaluating the potential of photovoltaic installations. The result of the actions taken as part of the competition is to bring about an increase in the share of electricity generated from the renewable energy sources (RES), in particular from the photovoltaic cells, in the total energy balance. This challenge also aims to increase public awareness of the renewable energy sources (RES) and the financial benefits of using such technology. As part of the second stage of the competition, the finalist was selected in 2020, with whom the detailed terms and conditions as well as the scope of the cooperation are agreed upon.||GovTech|