Photovoltaics at the service of new business models

18 April 2018

In the near future, electricity will no longer be seen as a commodity to be supplied regardless of its final use, as it has been up to now, but its value will be linked to the way of production, storage and use linked with the final services with added value such as domestic comfort, mobility or entertainment. The business model linked to electricity is already facing a radical change, which involves the development and implementation of new technologies, capable of responding to the growing energy needs of the planet.

A change, this, which should be guided with a renewed vision of the future. At Bologna Business School, we believe that an efficient use of natural resources requires above all, in addition to technological innovation, managerial skills and the ability to implement this same innovation in the field of sustainability. Our Global MBA in Green Energy and Sustainable Businesses therefore addresses young managers who see in the challenges imposed by climate change the principle on which to build the future of companies. In particular, the opportunities offered by the digital transformation and the use of Artificial Intelligence applied to big data, made possible by the worldwide pervasiveness of broadband connections, today represent the main levers of innovation and sustainability that must be expertly implemented in the company by qualified managers.

The ability to combine technological excellence in the field of renewable energies with the advantages offered by digital technology leads to surprising results. An excellent example is the company Elettronica Santerno which, thanks to the internet, keeps under control 24 hours a day, from its center near Bologna, its equipment used in the world’s largest photovoltaic system of panels mounted on single-axis solar trackers of Mount Signal in Calexico, California.  The goal of the continuous remote control of Elettronica Santerno inverters, which ensure the transport of the energy produced by the photovoltaic panels to the electricity grid, is to guarantee to the final customer the maximum productivity of the plant and the optimal exploitation of solar energy. For this reason, remote control solutions have been developed with the same paranoid attention to the cyber security aspects of the security systems used and implemented by the world’s largest financial institutions.

In fact, innovation also takes its nourishment from the contamination between technologies and best practices developed in other economic and industrial sectors. Today the need to drastically reduce the carbon dioxide emissions linked to the production of electricity imposes the inevitable increase in the share of electricity production from renewable sources. The rapidity of the commissioning and operation of Utility-grade photovoltaic systems, and the reduction in investment costs linked to the growing volumes of panel production worldwide, has enabled us to quickly reach double-digit percentages of renewable electricity in all advanced countries. Higher injection volumes will be achieved by deploying even more advanced smart grid systems associated with low-cost storage solutions and Utility Grade systems. The development and deployment of smart-grids has seen and sees the collaboration between industrial players coming from the telecommunications world and that of traditional electricity grid operators, demonstrating once again how the interaction and exchange between different industries produces innovation.

Internally to the theme of sustainable innovation, it is a source of great inspiration the commercial success that are having, in countries where there is no extended electricity grid, the services based on electricity produced by micro home networks and invoiced according to a pay-per-use business model. In the space of a few years, in fact, in the domestic lighting market, kerosene lamps have been replaced by solutions composed of small solar panels, batteries connected to low-consumption LED lamps and an electronic device for payment management in pay-per-use mode. These solutions allow not only to reduce the costs to millions of families for the same service, but also to improve the quality of the air in the houses.


Sustainability is an emergency, but with the right preparation it can become a project based on social equity, environmental quality and economic prosperity.


Alessandro Pastore, Co-director of the Global MBA in Green Energy and Sustainable Businesses


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