Enel Green Power has announced the seven winners of its Innovation Competition organised to solve five technical issues connected with operations at renewable plants by means of five innovative ideas. Evaluation committees selected the winning ideas from the 130 proposals submitted. A tie for two winners and a 10,000 euro prize for everyone.
Seven innovation champions for five technical challenges in the field of renewables. Enel Green Power has announced the winners of the innovation competition launched in August to identify innovative technological solutions able to meet the company’s operational needs at functioning plants across the world.
Evaluation committees selected the winners of the competition from the 130 submitted proposals, with two submissions tied, both receiving a prize. The seven selected proposals come from companies and individual innovators – including an Enel Green Power employee – who will each receive a 10,000 euro prize. Here below are their names, the projects and the reasons for the selection, classified according to the competition’s five categories.
USE OF DRONES/SATELLITES FOR ENGINEERING AND CONSTRUCTION AND O&M ACTIVITIES
(two submissions tied)
Pro-Drone: The company proposed an autonomous UAV (Unmanned aerial vehicle) solution for blade inspection of wind turbines. They have equipped the drones with space awareness sensors for blade inspections. Typically, full blade inspection requires 12 minutes while the expected LCOE reduction is about 0.12%, if these UAVs are used for O&M supervising activities.
Main reasons for the selection: Experience in the sector, high technical feasibility, applicability to EGP business and accuracy of economic analysis.
Keith Aubin (EGP employee): The winner proposed the integration of photographic data acquired with drones with the powerful properties of GIS (Geographical Information Systems) software, enabling EGP to combine both systems to reduce maintenance costs and transmit information. When the images and videos are acquired by flying objects (drones) there’s also the need of processing these data and transmitting them before making decisions. A new tailor-made GIS software with workflows adjusted to the purpose would make it possible to store, assess/interpret and respond to a great amount of data and images.
Main reasons for the selection: Experience in the GIS sector, the possibility of developing the idea in-house with no investment costs.
AUTOMATIC ASSEMBLY OF SOLAR PV PLANTS
Luciano Salvietti Cignetti: The winner proposed the use of an automated guided vehicle (AGV), properly designed for the assembly of PV plants. The solution consists in developing an improved version of a vision control robot that is already used for PV assembly (taking a cue from solutions currently in use in agriculture), but not yet fully autonomous and customizable for many plant layouts.
Main reasons for selection: Innovative and useful idea for EGP business, potential R&D programme for the development of the robot.
PHOTOVOLTAIC PANEL CLEANING
(two submissions tied)
Md Auwal Hassan: The winner proposed applying a porous ‘SLIPS’ surface (Slippery Liquid-Infused Porous Surface) to PV panels, which is an omniphobic product that is self-repairing, self-cleaning, and resistant to abrasion and corrosion. The proponent conducted scouting and finally identified this coating treatment as a good solution to minimise the soiling issue in PV plants. Many research institutes and companies are developing this product, including Harvard University.
Main reasons for selection: Offers an innovative solution for soiling minimization, now in development phase, proposal well-presented.
Kaustubh Ghule: The winner proposed an automatic cleaning system, consisting of electric motor-powered brushes positioned between two solar panels. The system is completely ‘water free’. The design has been developed in-house by the proponent, and a patent is pending on this solution. The proponent is a young Indian recent graduate (B.E Mechanical Engineering).
Main reasons for selection: Simple, water-free solution, detailed economic analysis, prototype already developed by the proponent.
The two proposals are complementary and try to solve the same problem (Soiling of PV plants) by focusing two different aspects:
- Minimising soiling (avoiding or minimising dust accumulation) – Md Auwal Hassan;
- Using an, easy-to-build, automatic and water-free cleaning robot – Kaustubh Ghule.
WIND TURBINE GENERATOR BLADE ANTI-ICING/DE-ICING
UltraTech International: The winner developed an organic/inorganic hybrid material, with a unique combination of fluid repellency and exceptional toughness for abrasion resistance and environmental stability. These hydrophobic/oleophobic coatings possess low surface energy, leading to easy cleaning, rain repellency, and excellent corrosion resistance. The product was developed as part of a 6-year US military-funded research to create a clear hydrophobic coating that would coat the canopies of F16 fighter jets.
Main Reasons for selection: Experience in the sector, high technical feasibility and innovative value for EGP business, proposal well-presented.
NEW GEOPHYSICAL PROSPECTING TECHNIQUES
Jatinder Hanspal: The winner proposed combining different techniques – ZTEM (Z-Tipper Axis Electromagnetic), FTG (Full tensor gradiometry) and Magnetic data – to perform an integrated interpretation, including 3D geological modelling and geophysical inversion. The strength of the key technologies which will be combined (FTG, ZTEM and Magnetics) lies in the ability to provide detailed subsurface geological mapping with an aerial method. Such regional-scale integrated surveys for geothermal exploration will provide a better picture of the geological makeup of an area from which more focused exploration of prospective areas would be possible.
Main reasons for selection: Advice of an interesting approach able to reduce geothermal exploration risks and geological uncertainty, innovative solution for EGP business.