Jul 10, 2020

Fujitsu: enabling the energy sector’s digital transformation

Digital Transformation
Digital Annealer
William Girling
3 min
With the release of a new whitepaper, leading IT/services company Fujitsu has outlined its vision: a more sustainable future for the energy sector...

With the release of a new whitepaper, leading IT/services company Fujitsu has outlined its vision: a more sustainable future for the energy sector.

Already a trusted partner worldwide, the company is a champion of digital transformation, believing that leveraging and applying the latest technologies to existing operations, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum-inspired capabilities, will enable an efficient, optimised and productive future for energy companies.

Here, in the first of a four-part series, Energy Digital will explore specific use cases and track how industry changes relating to the COVID-19 pandemic are causing companies to think about innovative technology and how it can impact their future business.

Workforce and resource allocation optimisation

“The energy sector remains stable as a whole, but significant cracks are emerging in the status quo,” states the whitepaper. Indeed, with fluctuating oil prices, COVID-19 disrupting previous operational paradigms and a mounting focus on increasing sustainability, Fujitsu highlights the immediate future for energy companies could be turbulent.

In an increasingly unpredictable era, energy companies need the agility and flexibility to deploy tens of thousands of skilled workers and engineering staff to the right project at the right time in an ever-changing landscape. 

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Fujitsu notes that companies took a broad interest in the importance of project management and workforce/resource management, yet they lacked compulsion due to predictable industry trends and a relatively stable market. 

Energy providers sought to place greater emphasis on environmental concerns and increasing shareholder returns.

Now, however, the optimisation of workforce allocation has been accelerated due to more stringent health and safety guidelines issued worldwide by governments and regulatory authorities, in addition to meeting production targets.

To achieve this, Fujitsu advocates leveraging optimisation technology and services to make informed decisions in real-time which could help maintain a competitive edge. But how is this to be accomplished?

Quantum-inspired computing

Coordinating people, resources and assets with numerous variables and finding the best solution to optimise teams and resources to support the business in a small timeframe is an overwhelming and complex task. The typical approach is manual and decentralised across different regions and teams.

“The mathematics needed to find the quickest, most cost-effective allocation of people and resources is well beyond what the fastest conventional computing systems can provide,” says Fujitsu. 

“There is, however, one technology model perfectly suited to answering these questions: quantum-inspired computing.”

Fujitsu’s quantum-inspired Digital Annealer has a processing speed up to 10,000 times faster than ‘classical’ computers, as well as being 12 Moore’s Law generations ahead of contemporary processors and fully supported by 8,192-bit architecture.

Using the Digital Annealer and optimisation services, the company states that companies will be able to improve profit, save costs, mitigate project delays and generate new revenue streams from previously under-utilised resources with the opportunity to see, on average, a 2% improvement in staff utilisation. 

Simultaneously, and crucially, quantum-inspired optimisation capabilities can factor in qualitative factors, such as worker wellbeing, preferences and work/life balance.

“By harnessing the power of quantum-inspired technology and optimisation services, companies are able to utilise their teams to maximum capacity by assigning the right resource to the right request at the right time. Doing so enables companies to make major strides and quickly move their business forward for long-term financial success. 

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Aug 2, 2021

Financing rises in digital platforms and renewables projects

Dominic Ellis
3 min
Recent financing deals involving Cold Bore Technology and Soltage underline the importance of digital platforms and renewables

Cold Bore Technology has closed $14M in growth financing in a round that was led by bp ventures with participation from the Canadian Business Growth Fund (CBGF).  

Cold Bore is leading a shift in the completions (fracking) industry towards safer, more autonomous operations by providing oil & gas companies with SmartPAD, a centralised fully integrated software and hardware platform designed to collect, analyse, and report data. Better utilisation of this data unlocks operators’ ability to make improvements across all KPIs.

Results from a recent SmartPAD implementation with Hibernia Resources, saw the Permian-based producer able to reduce the duration of their completions program by 15 days (27%), with commensurate reductions in cost and emissions.

Along with this investment from bp ventures, bp will be deploying Cold Bore’s SmartPAD in bpx energy’s US onshore operations. The technology will support bpx’s efforts to continuously improve its operations.

“The oil & gas industry has realised that technological innovation is key to meeting growing calls for reduced emissions and improved returns. Cold Bore is proud to be playing a leadership role in the future of oil & gas operations.” said Brett Chell, Co-founder & President at Cold Bore Technology.

“As we scale to meet incredible demand, we’re excited to have a strong strategic partner in bp, a forward-thinking international energy company, and to play a part in helping bp reach its carbon and operational targets. The future of the oil & gas industry is autonomous operations."

Existing investors include the Rice Investment Group (RIG), a $200M multi-strategy, energy sector investment fund.

Another company in the spotlight last week was Soltage, a leading independent renewable power producer, which has raised a $130M debt facility led by Silicon Valley Bank. The investment will finance a 110MW national portfolio of projects across North Carolina, South Carolina, Maine, Illinois, Virginia and Maryland.

The construction of this portfolio will be staged over the next three quarters, with construction currently underway on ten projects across four states. Customers purchasing electricity from the projects financed through this debt vehicle include Investor Owned Utilities buying power under Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) contracts, community solar subscribers and corporations purchasing power from the portfolio to meet clean energy goals and lower energy costs.

Silicon Valley Bank is the Sole Coordinating Lead Arranger of the debt facility with three other banks included as lenders. This facility includes an optional $100M expansion feature to finance additional projects beyond the current set of identified projects. This announcement marks the latest development for the Soltage Iris capital vehicle, following Soltage and Harrison Street's $250M commitment in March to deliver 450MW of new solar, solar+storage and standalone storage development across the US.

"Soltage continues to provide stable investment opportunities for capital providers who are looking for bankable approaches to sustainable infrastructure investment," said Sripradha Ilango, Soltage CFO. "We are pleased to continue to bring to market high quality project portfolios that open avenues for corporations, utilities and families to adopt solar power and achieve decarbonisation priorities."

"We are at a critical point where funding domestic infrastructure to bring more clean energy online in the United States is of the utmost importance," said Bret Turner, Market Manager at Silicon Valley Bank. "Our team is proud to work with Soltage to support building these essential zero carbon energy projects in key locations across the country."

This announcement is part of a continued movement of mainstream investors looking to solar and other renewable infrastructure assets for long-term investment opportunities. Soltage has deployed over $1B into clean energy assets across the US since its founding in 2005.

SVOLT Energy Technology Co., a leading EV battery manufacturer, held a B Round Financing Transaction Ceremony in Changzhou, Jiangsu on July 28. Following the completion of A Round Financing of RMB 3.5 billion ($538 million) at the end of February, the company rapidly closed this third round of market-based equity funding, raising a total amount of RMB 10.28 billion ($1.58 billion).

Last month also saw Longroad Energy, a US-based renewable energy developer, owner and operator, complete term financing for Sun Streams 2, its 200 MWdc solar project in Maricopa County, Arizona. Longroad owns 100 percent of the project after acquiring it in early 2021 from First Solar, the original developer.

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