Neoenergia stimulates scientific and technological production in Brazil through partnerships with universities


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Neoenergia has innovation among its main values. To this end, it invests in projects to improve the company's performance and services for its customers, many of them carried out in partnership with educational institutions, research centers and startups, also stimulating the development of scientific and technological production in Brazil. The Iberdrola group, the company's controlling shareholder, carries out the Universities Program, a global initiative that promotes actions such as the Hackathon Neoenergia. In addition, initiatives such as the partnership with Climate Center - Center for Integrated Studies on the Environment and Climate Change (Coppe/UFRJ) (Centro Clima – Centro de Estudos Integrados sobre Meio Ambiente e Mudanças Climáticas, in Portuguese) stand out for the development of a methodology and a plan for adapting to climate risk, which included the Neoenergia Challenges as a way to stimulate the application of academic knowledge in real themes of the group's business areas.

“Partnerships with the academy are strategic to foster both scientific and technological development in the country and to encourage professionals working in the company. In the Neoenergia Challenges, the process itself has already been transforming for the employees who participated, as it brought the opportunity to interact with researchers and gain new views on the issues presented. On the other hand, students also had the opportunity to use their acquired knowledge in the academy to test them in real cases, with data and information from operations, interacting with qualified professionals”, says the superintendent of Innovation and Sustainability at Neoenergia, Francisco Carvalho.

This activity was carried out for three months, between 2019 and 2020. Twelve students formed groups to analyze three real challenges in Neoenergia's business areas - thermal and hydroelectric generation and energy distribution - on climate change and biodiversity. Accompanied by the Company's mentors, they developed prototypes of solutions for the areas, which can be tested and incorporated.

The results were presented to an examining board, formed by professors and leaders of the company, in February 2020. The challenges involved two of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with which Neoenergia maintains a commitment: 13 (taking urgent measures to combat climate change and its impacts) and 15 (protecting, recovering and promoting the sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss).

In addition to the award, which consisted of a presentation of the prototype to the leaders and the purchase of tablets for each of the three students who made up the winning group, a few months later these students were invited to participate in a project to internalize climate risk, for through research grants, contributing to the production of content and in discussions with experts on the subject and representatives of the business areas. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, all activities of scholarship holders were developed using digital platforms.

Climate risk management

The Neoenergia Challenges were part of a set of initiatives within the scope of a Brazilian pioneering project in the electrical sector, in which a climate risk assessment methodology was developed and applied to an asset of the group. The plant defined for the pilot project was the Termopernambuco plant (Termope) and, subsequently, the methodology was customized and extended to Renewable Businesses, Transmission and Distribution.

The researchers at Centro Clima studied future georeferenced climate scenarios and historical trends for variables such as temperature, wind speed and generation and rainfall, evaluating their potential impacts on Termope. Based on these diagnoses, adaptive planning measures, both institutional and physical, were identified to eliminate and minimize any effects of changes resulting from climate change. The studies resulted in a strategic tool for the management of climate risk.

In addition to the methodology developed and the stimulation of students through the challenges, training events were offered to Neoenergia employees by professors from UFRJ and researchers from Centro Clima, with the objective of promoting the theme of climate resilience and adaptation. These activities were carried out online and later made available on the Global E-learning Platform (GEP), a virtual training environment used by the company's organizational development area.


An important integration action with educational institutions that is part of the Universities Program is the Hackathon Neoenergia. Three editions of this initiative

have already been held, with the participation of students from different training areas, such as Computer Science, Design, Engineering and Biomedicine. The selected students developed methodologies and prototypes for the grid and hydraulic and wind generation activities. The first was carried out in partnership with the Center for Informatics of the Federal University of Pernambuco (CIN/UFPE) (Centro de Informática da Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, in Portuguese), the second with the Metrópole Digital Institute (IMD -UFRN) and the third with the Center for Electrical and Computer Engineering at Escola Politécnica da University of São Paulo (Centro de Engenharia Elétrica e de Computação da Escola Politécnica da Universidade de São Paulo, in Portuguese)(Poli-USP). As a result of the partnership with UFRN, the prototype presented at the event of origin for a functional development, currently in use by the wind team to add efficiency and intelligence to the data management process of wind and solar towers.

Global strategy

Iberdrola has agreements with universities around the world, including partnerships with MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and Yale University, in the United States; the Universities Comillas and Salamanca, in Spain; Strathclyde, Scotland; the Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey, Mexico; and Hamad Bin Khalifa University, in Qatar. The priorities of these contracts are the development of studies on clean energy and digitalization, in addition to the training of professionals in the group and students from these institutions.

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