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The Circular Economy for A2A

The circular economy is the first pillar of our Sustainability Policy.
To build it, we took our cue from SDG’s 6, 12 and 15 from the UN’s 2020 Agenda on responsible consumption, water management, and biodiversity protection.
For us, having a “circular economy” means reducing and sustainably managing waste across its life cycle, as well as the responsible use of water resources.

 

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La decarbonizzazione per A2A

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Decarbonisation for A2A

Decarbonisation is the second pillar of A2A’s 2030 Sustainability Policy.
For us, reducing our carbon footprint means reducing greenhouse-gas emissions all along the chain of production, where value is generated, as well as in every service we offer to the community.

 

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Circular Economy: one of the four founding pillars of A2A’s 2030 sustainability policy

What does this involve? Perhaps it goes without saying, but the “circular economy” is the exact opposite of the “linear economy”, which contemplates the following steps:

raw material > design > manufacturing > distribution > use > disposal

Well then, the circular economy re-imagines a product by taking three characteristics into account: design, solidity, material, for the purpose of salvaging its components. Thus, a continuous cycle is created, which we can summarise as follows:

raw materials > design > manufacturing > distribution > use and repair > collection > recycling > new material

According to the OECD, if the trend in manufacturing output from recent years continues, by 2060 the volume of raw materials used to produce objects will have doubled. The European Commission asserts that if companies move towards a circular economy, we could save approximately 24% of the raw materials utilised each year, thereby avoiding anywhere from 425 to 617 million tonnes of greenhouse gases from being released into the atmosphere.

Our company has now incorporated the principles of the circular economy into its way of doing business. We have made three of the UN 2030 Agenda’s Sustainable-Development Goals our own. The UN has identified these goals as of paramount importance for reaching a sustainable economy:

  • SDG 6, Clean water; health and hygiene services
  • SDG 12, Responsible consumption and production
  • SDG 15, Life on Earth

These points are the guiding force for our industrial operations. The result? We place a focus on reducing and managing waste in a sustainable manner throughout its life cycle: The rubbish we collect does not go off to die in a landfill, it is used for other things: it is sent off for recycling, or used as fuel in an energy-production plant. In 2018 alone, 99.7% of collected waste was kept out of landfills. Given the important of water as a source of life and biodiversity, we take steps to manage our water resources in a responsible manner as well. This approach applies from capture all the way through the wastewater purification process. In so doing, we ensure a low loss-percentage rate from the networks, and we increase the capacity and performance of our purifiers.

To summarise, we are amongst the first Italian companies to invest in sustainable development. We have tackled an issue (i.e. the Circular Economy) that is quite challenging to put into practice in our line of work. Yet we have set ambitious goals for ourselves which, in collaboration with the local citizenry, we are confident that we will achieve

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La città dello Smart Living

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The city of Smart Living

When the technologies of a city work together for the well-being of its citizens: the example of Brescia Smart Living 

 

When can a city be defined as smart? The answer is: “today”.

Indeed, a number of technologies and processes already exist, laying the foundations for new services in the city of the future.
But is making the individual "elements" (services, processes, infrastructures, networks, sensors, etc ...) that constitute a city intelligent enough to transform it into a "Smart City"?

 

To answer this question, let's imagine, for example, that someone is taken ill in the street one evening (during a run or a bike ride, or as a result of an accident etc.). A smartwatch may be able to detect any dangerous health-related situations and automatically alert the emergency services by signalling the exact location of the citizen in trouble. On the arrival of the ambulance, intelligent cameras positioned on some of the street lamps which monitor the flow of pedestrians and cars send the street lighting system a signal to increase the luminous flux of the street lamps, thus facilitating the task of the rescuers. Increasing or decreasing street lighting in accordance with need not only enhances safety - it also increases the energy efficiency of the networks.

 

Living in a smart city means living in a connected, attentive and efficient city.
Everything changes, and the citizen, even just through his or her smartwatch, can access key data and connect to infrastructures that can provide assistance.
In the streets of the city, a simple street light becomes intelligent, and through cameras and sensors, can be used to monitor traffic, enabling other services to be activated if required.

The objects and technologies of a smart city play different roles, and are managed by different systems. It is not enough, however, to make them smart individually: it is essential that these technologies "talk" to one another, and work together in order to help citizens in difficulty, improving life in the city for them.
This is how the new integrated city services of the future are born.

 

This concept, which is characterised by complex infrastructures, is at the heart of the Brescia Smart Living project. Winner of the MIUR 2012 "Smart Cities and Communities and Social Innovation" award, this project aims to define and test a Smart City prototype for Brescia: creating a more sustainable city in terms of both energy and environment through the integration of different technologies and new services designed to improve the quality of life of the city's inhabitants.
Brescia Smart Living is co-funded by the Ministry of Education, University and Research, with the endorsement of the Commune of Brescia. The project, which was launched in 2015, will end in 2018.
 

 

A2A is leading the research and innovation initiative, with the involvement of several Group companies, coordinating over 100 professionals, 10 partners, and a number of universities and research centres.
Transforming these concepts into processes and new services is the desire that drives the various specialists, who work together and use their skills to conceive a new way of seeing our cities, and more specifically, to implement a Smart City project to benefit Brescia's citizens and public administration bodies.

 

The involvement and collaboration of the key players in a city - municipality, businesses, citizens and service providers - is the fundamental prerequisite that enables the integration of the technologies that facilitate the development of a Smart Living environment. 

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Smart City and Sharing Cities

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Smart City and Sharing Cities

The termSmart City is currently in vogue, but it is often a fascinating but ill-defined vision of the future rather than an evolving reality.

In fact, the concept of a Smart City is fluid, manifold and, by its very nature, constantly evolving just like urban conglomerates have been for thousands of years.
 

What will cities be like in the future? This is the question everyone asks themselves and the only limit to this vision is our own imagination. But what most people do not know is that the technology of the future already exists. The not-too-distant future will show us exactly what the evolutions and benefits of such technologies for cities and territories could entail.

Trying to take a snapshot of the present, we can see that the most dynamic cities are being transformed, and parts of them are increasingly seeking to be identified as Smart Cities. In this context, technological innovation plays a key role and allows us to test these technologies today and, consequently, to design scenarios that only a decade ago seemed foreseeable, for those who were able to imagine them, but certainly economically unsustainable.

The reality is that today businesses, public administrations and local communities start using resources (investments, people, and technologies) to design, implement and test the transformation of parts of cities into something “smarter”. It is the acquisition, analysis and use of data that the city has to offer for the generation of new services, which makes cities increasingly “smarter”.

 

The A2A Group is an active part of the process of transforming the cities in which it operates and does so by integrating the evolution of technology with its services through local, national and European initiatives such as Sharing Cities, an international project which is among the most concrete and prestigious.
Thanks to the integrated involvement of A2A Smart City and Unareti, the A2A Group is part of this project involving the cities of Milan, London, Lisbon, Bordeaux, Warsaw and Burgas.

They are cities that have accepted the challenge of smart evolution in a collaborative manner, sharing different experiences and needs, but above all by engaging in delivering solutions from a vision which is international but scalable, including local added value.
The international comparisons, the wide variety of partners, municipalities, and issues being tackled favour not only mere academic or theoretical discussion, but also a real cultural and technological movement based on open innovation and with unique features.
The aim is to experiment in tracing the right direction towards a future for cities that is coming ever closer.  


The Lighthouse Programme pursues key goals in developing a smart city by addressing issues such as mobility, energy and energy efficiency, housing and economic development.
In particular, the energy upgrading of public and private buildings is covered. New mobility services will be implemented and light poles will be transformed from their basic functionality to become smart elements. Energy Management System software will be installed and a shared citizen platform will be implemented, a tool to make data accessible to everyone.

 

A2A, A2A Smart City and Unareti are thus furnishing the project with their own skills, technologies and smart systems to help build an intelligent and integrated city:

 

  • The development of the LoRaWAN network for the Internet of Things;
  • The expansion of WiFi coverage for the Internet of People;
  • The installation of sensors for the collection of parameters related to the quality of the environment, the climate and the safety of citizens;
  • The monitoring of the quantities of electricity and gas used by the families involved in the experiments;
  • The monitoring of electrical substations and public lighting;
  • advanced automation of the power networks.

These are just some of the use cases set up by our Group in continuous collaboration with all its project partners.

 

Sharing Cities is an example of sustainable innovation because it seeks to make European cities more respectful of the environment and resilient to the effects of climate change.
This is happening today in some urban areas that will be testing the technologies, defining the standards and setting out the basis for replicating what is learned in the rest of today’s cities and those of the future.

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The sustainable (Re)designing of electric mobility

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The sustainable (Re)designing of electric mobility

The main players in the sustainable mobility supply chain, including local authorities, companies and associations, met in Milan this past 18 May for e_mob, the National Conference of Electric Mobility, to sign the Metropolitan Charter for Electric Mobility. The Charter is an official effort to develop sustainable mobility, improve air quality and, consequently, the quality of life of motorists and others.
Speakers at the conference included A2A President Giovanni Valotti, and CEO Valerio Camerano, who shared about the Group's experience and vision in this sector.
 

Electric mobility is, A2A  believes, a market that will need to be grounded in collaboration between players in order to develop: cooperation between companies is always useful, but it is crucial when the possibility of success depends on a variety of disparate factors. If these are not developed, the creation or evolution of the market may be halted.
The development of e-mobility depends on a dynamic global approach in which established players act alongside newcomers in automotive, those producing the infrastructure, and those managing the infrastructure (for example, multi-utility companies like A2A). But it also depends on new services, like integrated data management and the supporting software platforms, and finally, institutions: from individual Municipalities to the State, which has played a foundational role in creating the market in European Countries.

Presidente di A2A Giovanni Valotti

A2A knows this scenario well, since the company has been playing a key role in the sector ever since renewables revolutionised the energy market.
There are, in fact, several similarities between the mobility sector - especially sustainable mobility - and the energy sector.
The first similarity is the longevity of companies: A2A, for example, purchased its first hydroelectric plants in Valtellina in 1906, while the top 10 car manufacturers around the world have been in business for over 50 years.

The second similarity is that new players are moving in: while new players in automotive are introducing innovative development models and approaches that focus on adjacent businesses, the revolution in renewables also witnessed the entry of investment funds and small businesses, as well as of individual houses that contribute any energy they don't consume to the grid.

 

 

Amministratore Delegato di A2A Valerio Camerano

 

Legal aspects

Finally, the legal aspects. The development of renewable energies exploded thanks to robust incentives: in 2016, the A3 component of the energy bill weighed over 14 billion euros on the national level. Similarly, the development of electric cars in Europe is confined to Countries that provide generous incentives like France, Norway and Holland, while our nation is only seeing timid growth in a few happy islands, like Milan: thanks in part to the commitment of the Municipal government, which is progressively creating the necessary conditions to encourage migration to electric cars.

Collaboration, therefore, can and must be vast. Incentives for purchasing electric vehicles, as many European countries show, have been a decisive factor for the conversion of traditional vehicles and for the creation of a more structured development of charging stations across the territory.

The  A2A Group: a precious ally in the process for the electrification of transportation

In this setting the A2A Group is already at work setting a solid foundation for development by fully including electric mobility in its Strategic Plan. The group aims to be a precious ally in the electrification of transportation for car-sharing companies, logistics, car manufacturers, public administration and the final user.
A2A is already ideally placed for these goals, through Milan, it manages the most wide reaching urban network in Italy, and the most diversified in terms of the outlets and power available (AC 3.6 kW, 7.2kW, 22 kW; DC 50 kW), and the main public charging network in Italy for 50 kW fast charging stations, with 13 Fast Charge stations installed through a partnership with Nissan and the City of Milan. A2A currently provides the charging service for all the electric car-sharing services operating in Lombardy (DriveNow, Share’Ngo, E-VAI) and is moving forward with an experimental project, E-moving, in collaboration with the Authority for electrical energy, gas and water.

In 2016 alone, the A2A grid provided 90,000 charges, supplying 735 MWh. What's more, a year after the installation of the 13 Fast Charge charging stations - the installation coincided with the 2016 Champions League final - 10,000 charges have been provided, using 140 MWh, equivalent to 850,000 kilometres travelled with 100% renewable energy supplied by A2A Energia.

Investments in Electric Mobility by A2A

Investments in electric mobility by A2A are an absolute necessity for this to become an activity that is stably managed by the Group, which believes that the market can develop. The process started internally, with the company's electric fleet and offices, as a means of testing the new systems and models designed by A2A.

 

The innovative solutions being implemented serve several objectives:

  • new charging infrastructure for future use in public and private settings;
  • Developing a smart management algorithm for power charges, to guarantee both the minimum power needed for a slow night-time recharge and a recharge of up to 22 kW during the day. It's an innovative model compared to what is currently available on the market, which makes it possible to reduce the power used without sacrificing the efficiency of the charge. This system, which will be tested on the company fleet at the Group's offices in Via Pontenuovo, Milan, will also be able to modulate the total power that can be taken from the grid given the needs of the grid itself (smart grid)
  • key data from vehicles automatically to provide real-time information about battery decay, energy consumption, autonomy, etc.
  • Testing a platform for the charging service that A2A will offer to both public and private clients starting in 2018

 

A2A aims to continue to develop the public grid by investing in new charging stations in the "belt" around Milan, at Malpensa Airport, in Brescia and in the rest of Lombardy.

Sustainable mobility and the Smart City

Sustainable mobility is one of the key components of the smart city, and the use of electric vehicles is one of the main tools for reducing pollution in the city. A2A will continue to pursue its policy for the well-being of the city and to improve the environment we live in , and through A2A Smart City, a company within the Group, A2A hopes to develop services through an open logic that includes interaction with public and private entities. Given the infrastructure and charging services needed, electric mobility fits this vision perfectly.

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