ENEL OPEN INNOVABILITY CHALLENGE | Excavating and repairing Low Voltage underground networks

23/03/2021 - Enel

Challenge Expiration Date: May 18, 2021

RewardCollaboration with Enel


Enel Global Infrastructure & Networks is searching for collaboration partners with the technology and expertise to excavate and repair low voltage underground networks with a minimal footprint above ground. The solution will not be required to diagnose the fault, but simply to reach and fix it.


Underground cables have been extensively used for Enel’s power distribution networks in Europe and South America, thanks to their suitability for connecting new buildings, better security from illegal derivations and resistance to severe climatic conditions. Underground cables usually have reduced maintenance and operating costs given the reduced number of transitory interruptions that generally affect overhead lines. Finally, underground cables also eliminate the visual impact for drivers and pedestrians on the streets when compared to overhead lines and poles.

But in case of underground cable faults, due to insulation degradation, mechanical accidents, excessive internal/external stresses, a costly and time consuming activity is necessary in order to repair the affected portion of cable: once the exact fault location has been identified through special electronic devices and cable tracers, permitting need to be asked to public authorities (e.g. municipality) and finally excavation and joint’s realization need to be performed.

The entire operation requires high effort in terms of time, resources and budget. To streamline the process, Enel Global Infrastructure & Networks is looking for a cost-effective, technical solution.

This challenge provides contribution to the following sustainable development goal (SDG):

  • SDG 9: Industries, innovation and infrastructure. Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

Meet our call!



Low voltage underground cables are protected from the weather and are less susceptible to damage. However, cable faults do occur and when there is a disruption of electrical service, special devices are used to pinpoint the location of the fault within 5m. When these cables are situated in high traffic area, the current excavation and repair procedures are extremely disruptive. It must be highlighted that the electrical activities (execution of one or more joints) has a negligible impact on costs compared to the civil works (excavation, permitting, etc.) that – by the way – do not affect an asset owned by the distribution company (namely, the cable) but a public or private property.

The ideal solution would be an equipment able to operate with the minimum surface occupancy necessary to reach the faulty point (minimizing excavation duties and costs) and repair the cable with the appropriate intervention, case by case. In South American countries (Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Argentina and Chile) and also Enel’s European networks (Italy, Spain, Romania), where underground lines are more spread, there is a great opportunity to maximize benefit from these kind of solutions.


Enel is searching for an innovative solution capable of excavating and reaching a faulty low voltage (LV) cable followed by repairing the fault underground. Recognizing that these are independent activities, the challenge will be separated in two different modules (Enel with reserve the right to collaborate with a supplier that can deliver both modules or one supplier for each module):

Module 1: Dig and reach, with the minimum surface occupancy and excavation, the faulty point of the cable with a device equipped with a camera which can avoid damaging other cables or devices. For example, an equipment which can perform like a “laparoscopy”.

Module 2: Once the fault is located, the equipment shall repair the LV cable. For example, an equipment that can restore the insulation by applying repairing sleeves around the damaged cable.

NOTE: Solvers should identify at least a proposal that satisfies Module 1. Module 2 is a nice to have.

More info @EnelOpenInnovability

Meet our call!


Tipologia: Challenge prize

Fonte: https://openinnovability.enel.com/projects/Excavating-and-repairing-Low-Voltage-underground-networks

Paese: Brasile, Messico, ITALIA, Svizzera, Spagna, Australia, Norvegia, Repubblica Ceca, India, Regno Unito, Danimarca, Cina, Germania, Cile, Sudafrica, Serbia, Francia, Finlandia, Austria, Giappone, Vietnam, Federazione Russa, Paesi Bassi, Egitto, Argentina, Singapore, Lituania, Svezia, Israele, Canada, Corea del Sud, Stati Uniti d'America, Belgio

SSD: 01 - Scienze matematiche e informatiche, 02 - Scienze fisiche, 03 - Scienze chimiche, 04 - Scienze della terra, 05 - Scienze biologiche, 06 - Scienze mediche, 07 - Scienze agrarie e veterinarie, 08 - Ingegneria civile e Architettura, 09 - Ingegneria industriale e dell'informazione, 10 - Scienze dell'antichità, filologico-letterarie e storico-artistiche, 11 - Scienze storiche, filosofiche, pedagogiche e psicologiche, 12 - Scienze giuridiche, 13 - Scienze economiche e statistiche, 14 - Scienze politiche e sociali