Significant ICT Projects Were Realized in Bulgaria’s Energetics
During the last few years a number of infrastructure project were realized in Bulgaria’s energy sector.
Both the National Electricity Company (NEC) and the electricity distribution enterprises completely renewed their infrastructure, including the communication infrastructure, servers, workstations, and periphery.
Part of the companies (mainly the foreign-owned ones) applied the outsourcing model for their IT infrastructure.
All electricity distributors, as well as NEC, the Electricity System Operator (ESO), and Maritsa Iztok-1 (a thermal power station in Southern Bulgaria) started using SAP ERP software. Currently an SAP ERP system is being implemented in Overgas too. The ERP systems in some enterprises are integrated with other internal applications and consolidate the financial data from all surrounding systems.
The electricity distributors also implemented new CRM solutions, which are completely in accordance with the activities separation requirements. “They provide the companies with a much better resilience in the new conditions – flexible fees, different payment options, opportunities to report shorter and longer periods, integration with other systems like call centers, document management systems, etc.,” says Galina Vangelova, former manager of the Information systems and technologies department at the NEC.
There also were significant GIS implementation projects in the Bulgarian energy sector. “The National Electric Company and the electricity and gas distribution companies deployed new geographic information systems based on ESRI,” Vangelova adds. “They allow the visualization of the location of the network assets, the optimization of the building and repair processes of the network assets, the implementation of new processes which include the usage of mobile devices. Furthermore nearly every electricity distributor deployed new SCADA systems connected to the real-time network management, and the NEC implemented a new dispatch management system.”
“The building of data centers continues to be a main technological trend in the energy sector, where CEZ has one of the largest projects,” says Atanas Marin, IT Manager with ESO National Dispatching. “The creation of sub-stantions with no staff in the energetics is another important trend, which has gained momentum in the last 5 years in Bulgaria. Such sites are built both in the power transmission network of NEC, and in the distribution networks of the electricity suppliers.”
The major challenges for the following years will be optimizing the energy networks maintenance costs, the integration of business and technological systems, the implementation of intelligent systems, that will process big data and will offer business solutions. A development is expected in the sphere of CRM applications and the systems enabling participation on the open energy markets. These systems will analyze contracts, power status and the possible costs in cases of adding or removing capacities. These systems can implement what-if analyses and offer the best financial scenario.
“Smart grid solutions require huge investments, which are made not only in the USA but in numerous European countries as well,”, adds Marin. “As a whole we are on the doorstep of everything in this area in Bulgaria. Several separate elements of the Smart grid infrastructure are being developed now, such as the pilot projects carried out by the electricity distributors for remote reading and energy management with household customers.”