RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT AND INNOVATION
One of the goals set in the PGNiG Group’s Strategy is to step up innovation by effective implementation of R&D and innovation projects. The PGNiG Head Office oversees activities in the area of innovation (identification of new solutions, development, implementation/commercialisation) and energy efficiency, manages R&D projects and intellectual property rights, and collaborates with scientific and research centres.
Research and development
In 2019, out of the 57 R&D projects supervised by the Head Office, 28 were in the execution phase at the end of the year: 41 projects implemented and financed or co-financed by PGNiG (including 9 projects co-financed on a 50:50 basis by PGNiG and the National Centre for Research and Development under the INGA – Innovative Gas Industry programme) and 16 projects implemented and financed by PGNiG Group companies (including PSG: 10 projects, Geofizyka Toruń: 4 projects, PGNiG TERMIKA: 2 projects).
14 projects were completed in 2019, With approximately PLN 13.5m spent on R&D activities across the PGNiG Group. The key initiatives implemented or completed in 2019 included:
- Launch of the second (prototype) phase of the MiniDrill directional drilling project to increase natural gas production while reducing its costs;
- Launch of the Hydra Tank project to build a pilot hydrogen filling station for test purposes, and execution of a letter of intent with a selected business partner – the target supplier of the hydrogen powered car fleet;
- Completion of the contract execution process and initiation of nine projects as part of the first edition of the INGA Programme (nine contracts in total), including:
- Exploration for coal bed methane and optimisation of its production at pre- and post-production stages (Geology and Hydrocarbon Production Branch in PGNiG);
- Implementation of a smart customer service system using voice recognition, voice biometrics and big data analysis (PGNiG OD);
- Development of an autonomous GC/DMS analytical system for continuous remote analysis of transported gas fuel and its additives to streamline the management of the smart gas grid (PSG).
- Successful completion of the ELIZA project, laying the foundations for the establishment of a PGNiG Group hydrogen competence building programme.
Innovation and business growth
In 2019, the Group companies pursued 121 innovation projects, of which 30 were completed. Capital expenditure on R&D&I activities at the PGNiG Group remained relatively unchanged compared with the previous year (approximately PLN 400m). 23 projects were underway at PGNiG, including Geo Metan II, InnVento Startup Centre, Kelvin, establishment of PGNiG Ventures, Digital Field, Smok 3D.
In the reporting period, work began to commercialise (directly and indirectly) two solutions being developed by CLPB, including: ‘SMOK 3D Measurement and Settlement System for Liquefied Natural Gas’, which will enable the LNG mass flow rate to be measured directly using the methods developed by CLPB. The direct measurement is intended to ultimately replace the current settlement methods, which, due to their inaccuracy, result in balancing discrepancies. Another solution concerns LNG sampling, but due to the pending patent protection procedure, more detailed information on the solution cannot be provided.
InnVento Startup Centre
In 2019, InnVento’s activities focused on the following four pillars
- Expanding a network of collaboration with professional partners specialising in the search for and acceleration of start-ups
In 2019, PGNiG and the Startup Hub Poland Foundation cooperated in the programme ‘Startup Hub: Poland Prize (part of the government’s programme ‘Start in Poland’), with the main objective to diversify the Polish startup community. 26 innovative teams from more than a dozen countries participating in three acceleration rounds were selected from among 1,250 startups. Following the programme completion, some of the startups continue to develop their projects, including as part of the ‘Fast Track’ competition run by the National Centre for Research and Development, and at the same time remain ready for cooperation with PGNiG.
In 2019, cooperation under the MIT Enterprise Forum Poland acceleration programme carried on in cooperation with the Technology Enterprise Foundation was completed. Twelve startup pilot projects were conducted under the programme, involving e.g. use of drones to create orthophoto maps or monitor air pollution,, increase in oil production efficiency, or deployment of virtual reality to train employees with the use of a pressure reducing and metering station simulator.
- Support for selected startups and their business supervisors at PGNiG in pilot implementations.
Further support for startups was provided in cooperation with and as part of pilot projects at PGNiG. In 2019, eight of the projects acquired by partners were selected for implementation under accelerated or pilot project procedures.
- Promotion of the InnVento’s offering and PGNIG’s brand combined with intensive search for innovative startups
InnVento was a participant of approximately 40 events bringing together startup, new-tech and energy communities. Two Pitch Days were organised, during which startup representatives could present their innovative solutions to a panel of PGNiG Group experts; 10 startups presented their ideas. In addition, about 20 individual meetings were held between company experts and startups willing to start cooperation.
- Fostering innovation growth and innovation culture at the PGNiG Group
In 2019, efforts were continued to stimulate the internal potential and culture of innovation at PGNiG by organising Innovation Leaders Meetings (in the form of workshops) to exchange information and share experiences between those directly involved in developing innovation. Nine meetings organised as part of the ‘Face to Face with Technology’ and ‘Face to Face with Innovation’ cycle created an opportunity for more than 150 representatives of start-ups and business as well as PGNiG employees to explore such subjects as the use of artificial intelligence in business, protection of intellectual property rights, date governance, and use of 5G technology or space technologies in industry. The Company’s employees participated in the pilot programme ‘Manager of Innovation Academy’ run by the Polish Agency for Enterprise Development and the Ministry of Enterprise and Technology.
In 2019, systemic solutions were introduced as an integral part of the PGNiG Energy Policy and an ISO: 50001 Energy Management System was implemented. In order to stimulate bottom-up employee initiatives aimed at improving the Company’s energy efficiency, the Management Board decided to introduced ‘Rules for Reporting and Rewarding Employees’ Initiatives Improving Energy Efficiency’.
In February 2019, an agreement was signed with PGG, on cooperation in implementing a project in the KWK Ruda Ruch Bielszowice coal mine. Works related to drilling the Bielszowice-1K and Bielszowice-2H boreholes began. The Minister of the Environment issued a decision approving the plan of geological operations for the works. A co-financing request concerning the works was prepared and submitted to the State Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management.
In the coming years, the research and development area will be geared towards achievement of direct business benefits for the Company and commercialisation of the solutions that have been successfully implemented. At the same time, new business areas with a potential for enhancing the Company’s competitiveness and market position will be constantly explored. These activities will be implemented over two time horizons:
Short-term horizon (until 2021):
- Strengthening the position of the PGNiG Group in hydrogen technologies, for instance by developing hydrogen fuels competence and building Poland’s first accredited research laboratory qualified to perform hydrogen testing, etc.;
- Resolution of the INGA II competition;
- Transferring the MiniDrill, EcoHead and other research and development projects for commercialisation;
- Putting forward proposals of new attractive business areas for the Group, in particular: application of photovoltaics, including in the production of ‘green’ hydrogen, pilot facilities for processing biogas from the existing and planned biogas plants, development of a methodology for assessing PGNiG’s environmental footprint, and development of modern environmental management systems;
Medium-term horizon ( 2022-2023):
- Continued implementation of the PGNiG Group’s 2017−2022 R&D strategy;
- Growth and expansion in the hydrogen technology market, including in P2G energy storage, hydrogen storage;
- Commercialisation of R&D projects, including the products and technologies developed on the basis of INGA projects;
- Selection of technologies/projects whose scale offers a break-through potential for the PGNiG Group, and launch of their commercialisation based on international consortia.
In the coming years, the PGNiG Group is set to proactively acquire and implement innovation projects and efficiently deploy selected solutions. The Group’s involvement in the government’s ‘Start in Poland’ programme and in the cooperation with the startup community will continue.
Steps will be taken with a view to obtaining PN-EN ISO 50001 certification for the Energy Management System.
In January 2020, an agreement was signed with Jastrzębska Spółka Węglowa S.A. for cooperation on the execution of the project at KWK Budryk. In February 2020, the PGNiG Management Board decided to limit the scope and budget of the project. One borehole system at KWK Budryk will be drilled instead of the three borehole systems originally planned to be drilled in three different locations. A plan of geological operations is to be prepared and submitted to the Ministry of Climate soon, followed by preparation and submission to the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management of an application for co-financing of work to be carried out at KWK Budryk