From storage systems embedded in solar and wind facilities in Italy to the hybrid plant that provides stable access to electricity to the inhabitants of Ollagüe in Chile. From the ISWEC marine machine to the geothermal drilling rig HH300 and ‘green drones' for solar fields and dams. This the long list of innovations that 2015 brings to the new year
For Enel Green Power, innovation has been the leading thread over the past year. 2015 events already point to the path that EGP is set on following in 2016: projects aimed to test and develop new technologies, open innovation to identify the best solutions that can meet the daily needs of EGP’s activities around the world, research and programmes to increase plant efficiency.
Innovation and sustainability are an increasingly inseparable combination for EGP, and 2015 in particular featured the achievement of the Ollagüe project in Chile, one of the most explanatory examples of this approach, based on technology combined with development serving the common good, according to the Creating Shared Value model. The recipient of several awards and mentioned by CNN and The Guardian as a best case, the hybrid plant built in the Atacama desert provides stable access to electricity for the population of this small village. It is also the world’s first example of a high-altitude energy facility that integrates three technologies for renewable sources in a single solution, an electricity storage system and a stand-alone and self-sufficient distribution grid.
The electricity storage systems that EGP is operating in Italy demonstrate the company’s awareness and intention to verify the effectiveness and performance of a technology that is set to become increasingly strategic for renewable sources. The storage systems embedded in the Catania solar field and the Potenza Pietragalla wind farm are the first stationary storage pilot projects that EGP is integrating into commercial-scale renewable plants. They can compensate for the non-programmability of solar and wind generation and ensure services necessary for the stability and safety of the electricity system.
The new technologies that entered the EGP world in 2015 are a confirmation and simultaneously a new challenge for the company, continually focusing on verifying cutting-edge solutions aimed to extend its business and increase the effectiveness and efficiency of online plants. In this sense, the most significant innovations that have been created over the last year include:
- The Inertial Sea Wave Energy Converter (ISWEC), a marine machine conceived following a partnership with the company Wave for Energy, a Turin Polytechnic spin-off, which harnesses the superficial movement of waves and converts it into electricity;
- The HH300 geothermal drilling plant that was put into service in Larderello, a next-generation highly automated hydraulic system with high safety levels for operational staff and production efficiency;
- The green drones that EGP uses in diagnostics and monitoring operations involving solar plants and dams, combining speed and effectiveness, enhanced safety for technicians and reduced costs for Operation & Maintenance activities.
Open innovation is increasingly essential for EGP, which in 2015 also involved startuppers, green technology companies and individual makers in an open contest for prizes. The Innovation competition that Enel Green Power launched at the end of last year to meet five technical challenges regarding operational needs at online plants produced 130 projects, competing for the final 10,000 euro prize for each of the competition’s five categories. The names of the winners will be announced by the end of January 2016, thus confirming that the new year is also beginning with a focus on innovation.