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Interoperability and innovation on food retail decarbonization

Sonae established a road map, based on the Science Based Targets initiative, that defines several pathways and measures to achieve carbon neutrality, many of them well aligned with InterConnect.

November 30, 2021

As need for action to address climate change becomes increasingly more consensual, European leaders point to carbon neutral societies in 2050, hoping that other leaders will follow. Despite the huge challenge that such target poses, Sonae group was even more ambitious and anticipated its own carbon neutrality targets to 2040, reinforcing its undeniable commitment to be part of the solution and contribute positively to the transition ahead.


Sonae established a road map, based on the Science Based Targets initiative, that defines several pathways and measures to achieve carbon neutrality, many of them well aligned with InterConnect scope – e.g.: electrification, energy efficiency, asset monitoring, digitalization, integration of renewables, among others.


With such ambitious road map in place, there are reasons to believe that the future will be cleaner, renewable, more efficient, more flexible, sustainable and Sonae MC, as the leading food retail in Portugal, wants to be at the forefront, innovating and bringing new solutions to its operations impacting positively both its customers and workforce.


Sonae’s history in food retail started in 1985 and during the last 36 years several stores were added to a portfolio that currently accounts more than 320 supermarkets in Portugal. During this period a large variety of technological solutions were deployed and some were, meanwhile, partially or totally refurbished. On top of the already existing diversity of technologies associated to food retail – cold, lighting and climatization – PV systems were also installed in several stores particularly since 2014, as local generation became more attractive. A few years later, in 2019, Sonae MC decided to provide an additional service to its customers, well in line with its decarbonization strategy, the Continente Plug&Charge, an electric vehicle (EV) parking service that includes charging.


This multitude of technologies, from different manufacturers, from legacy to state of the art, covering diverse systems and equipment poses a huge challenge when it comes to efficiently manage energy resources – that is where interoperability becomes a very relevant tool – allowing a heterogeneous portfolio of stores, systems and equipment to be monitored and managed – from the end-user stand point – through a single interoperable AIoT platform the integrated Energy Management System (iEMS), provided by Sensinov that relies on Schneider Electric interoperable solutions deployed at 12 Sonae MC stores, with the support of Domotica sgta.


Moving towards the future of decentralized generation, renewable energy sources, where consumers are active players, electric mobility is widely adopted, etc. presents a new paradigm to the whole electric sector impacting regulators, grid operators, retailers, service providers – virtually everyone. Such a dynamic but yet desirably resilient and safe system, will necessarily need to become increasingly more flexible and agile. In this context, interactions between Sonae MC stores and E REDES, the Distribution System Operator (DSO) are essential to validate end-to-end scenarios, where the consumer has the ability to manage its load and respond to DSO signals, playing an active role in the energy sector – providing Demand Side Flexibility (DSF) to the grid operator. Flexibility estimation and aggregation will be assured by INESC TEC during the pilot demonstrations. All interactions between different actors, from consumer to DSO rely in digital platforms connected through an interoperable framework.


As the rollout of the Continente Plug&Charge unfolds, more and more stores offer EV charging service to its clients. In most of those stores self-consumption PV is also installed as it mitigates potential contracted power peaks induced by the EV chargers use as well as provide renewable clean energy to the store and the EV chargers. Thanks to this combination of EV charging and local PV power, new offers can be created namely EV charging “happy hour”, taking advantage of eventual PV surplus. In the opposite scenario, in case of restrictions and constraints, different offers can be made available, namely the “flexible charging” where EV users can specify their charging needs and departure time and the service optimizes the charging process within the available time window. In both cases, Sonae MC`s clients can collect benefits through the Continente Card, the largest loyalty card program in Portugal, comprising more than 4 million families.


InterConnect pilot demonstrations are a key opportunity to test and validate the solutions that are being deployed in 12 different stores – from the north to the south of Portugal. Interoperability does not only allow an integrated management of a multitude of systems and equipment, it is also an enabler of a whole ecosystem where different players can exchange data and services in an interoperable manner, creating conditions for more innovation to come – innovative services, products, businesses…


Based in the results achieved during the pilot, Sonae MC can replicate the solutions throughout its own portfolio to leverage and consolidate its sustainability strategy, while contributing to cross-sector decarbonization and digitalization. Elergone Energia, as off-taker, can further develop the solutions, adapt them to different end-users and, subsequently, exploit them in the market, escalating the impact of the project in different sectors and in society.



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