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Smart metering technologies are causing a drift of the theft methodologies, from meter manipulation to line manipulation. In the near future, the latter will be the most common theft method adopted. A great deal of cables are placed underground, and this makes it particularly difficult to spot tampered cables: thieves create illegal connections that are not evident even during inspections.

To discover illegal underground connections, and also for maintenance purposes, it would be useful to have a device capable of estimating with precision where a derivation (joint) is placed along an LV cable.

Cable tracers have been available on the market for a long time, but you need long and expensive field inspections in order to find underground derivations: somebody needs to follow the cable, along its entire length. The ideal solution, however, would be something that can be used in the substation itself and can provide an accurate estimation of the distance to the joint.


At Enel Global Infrastructure and Networks we are looking for portable devices, which could detect cable derivations from the substations by means of some kind of physical phenomena such as: pulse or electromagnetic wave reflections, two-points pinging on the section of a line, analysis of grid electric parameters, etc…


Here some possible general ideas we are willing to experiment:

  • Devices that are connected the network only during inspections: they should be portable and quick-to-mount. If they are supposed to be interfaced with our smart metering infrastructures, they should be plug-and-play and compatible with ENEL open protocol (find more details at the link Meters&More).
  • Devices that do not need to be connected to the network: they are based on physical phenomena that are not electromagnetic ones (x-rays, georadars, sonars, etc…)


Concurring in our Challenge you should take in consideration the following Technical requirements/properties:

a) Sub-meter accuracy;

b) Minimum maintenance (if permanently installed);

c)  Cost competitive.



The submitted proposal should include the following:

  • Detailed technical description of an approach that can meet the above technical requirements
  • Rationale for the proposed technology, including explanation of the current process it is going to rethink or modify direct cost, man-hours savings
  • Any formats of materials showing the inefficiency of the actual process (pictures, videos, cost statements) that could be useful to support and explain the proposed solution, if available.
  • Main and tangible benefits the new idea is going to bring; any supporting information with regards to its feasibility and economics
  • Documentation of technologies proven record and savings
  • If available, drawings for any devices, schematics for installation and rough estimations of costs (e.g. investment, operational, maintenance) and power consumption
  • Cost estimate per component type
  • Description of the maintenance necessary for the method
  • Example of use cases where the solution has proven effective (if available)
  • Information on any known limitations


What can we do to resolve this problem following an approach Open, Innovative and Sustainable? 

All questions related to this challenge should be directed to: globalinsfrastructurenetworks@enel.com

This challenge provides contribution to the following SDGs:

  • SDGs 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure. Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

Challenge rules

All proposers are invited to read carefully the challenge and the Regulation of this challenge, attached below in the Attachments section, before to submit a solution. 

By submitting a solution they automatically accept the attached Regulations other than the Terms of Use of this platform.


Explain your proposal in English, attach documents if needed (max 5 files, 25MB total size) and support the idea focusing on the following key drivers:

  • Presentation of the proposal, outline and how the technology works;
  • Development stage (Under lab-scale development / Under development for practical use / Implemented for practical use);
  • R&D capability (if development is still needed);
  • Past record of application for similar purposes (such as technical papers or other documentation for introducing your developed product);
  • Issues expected toward application of this project;
  • Sample testing conditions:
    • available sample quantity;
    • cost;
    • required time.
  • Pilots realized : pilots with type test realized in accredited laboratory (Attach dossier)
  • Pilot installed in field:
    • Attach dossier;
    • Date, company, location;
    • Technical information about the equipment.
  • Maintenance of the equipment:
    • Instrumentation;
    • Activities and periodicity;
    • Manipulation skills;
    • Possible legal considerations.
  • Prospect for scaling up
  • Costs/benefits analysis
  • Other

Submissions to this Challenge must be received by 11:59 PM (CET) on March16, 2020

Late submissions will not be considered.

What happens next?

Enel will evaluate the response using the following criteria:

  • Overall scientific and technical merit of the proposed approach
  • Approach to proof of concept or performance
  • Potential for proprietary position (i.e., is the technology novel or protectable)
  • Economic potential of the concept
  • Respondent’s capabilities and related experience
  • Realism of the proposed plan and cost estimates
  • Timing


Once suitable proposals will be identified, the relevant company/es of the Enel group will reserve the opportunity to sign a contract with one or more than one Supplier regarding the following activities:

  • Type Testing execution;
  • Supply of prototypes of the above mentioned system
  • Installation and site tests;
  • Follow up and monitoring of the equipment behavior during a specified time (e.g. 2 years).


Regulation - Cable Derivation Identification RFP

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