Big Data: the “digital” gold of the renewables

Published on Tuesday, 1 August 2017

“More than 1200 Enel Green Power plants worldwide daily generate a significant amount of data which must be processed through Big Data analysis, in order to become useful information for maintenance activities.”

The millions of signals produced every day by our machines are like a gold vein, necessary to be mined, transformed and processed. Big Data is a fundamental asset to make all the plants belonging to Enel Green Power fleet always more efficient.

Teamwork in a data “lake”

We are running several projects collecting information from our operating units worldwide and integrating them into a unique solution in order to extract the maximum added value.

In 2016, we built up the foundation of a complex architecture, setting up a data lake able to store a growing amount of both structured and unstructured data, coming from different  data source types, all this in real-time.  

The data lake is conceived to guarantee flexibility, scalability and reliability in terms of high frequency data integration, as well as great performance of analysis algorithms.

Our Big Data architecture is able to integrate and manage operative data, collected from the entire renewable fleet in real-time, and at the same time master and management data, coming from our management systems.

The Global ICT department works side by side with Operation & Maintenance (O&M) and the Innovation and Sustainability teams, supported by digital managers, in order to boost all the initiatives aimed at carrying out the best value from the data.

“Our Big Data system is the result of a teamwork carried out by different functions of Enel Green Power in close collaboration with all business lines.”

Big Data makes EGP technologies always more efficient

The use of Big Data analytics is of strategic importance in order to increase efficiency and optimize power plant maintenance costs. First results achieved in wind and solar technologies led to an extension to the hydro technology. All power plants are integrated into the Big Data architecture in order to enable the modelling and development of predictive diagnostic algorithms.  

Currently, Wind Big Data Boost project is  assessing predictive analytics solutions provided by six different technological providers. The Big Data Hydro project foresees the connection of five pilot power plants to the data lake by the end of the year.  The Innovation team in collaboration with the Operation and Maintenance and ICT units is carrying out both projects. 

“The research results will improve predictive maintenance activities in our power plants and lead to a reduction of maintenance costs.”

We collaborate with external service providers to develop predictive maintenance analytics, using the data collected from our wind and hydro plants. Afterwards, we integrate the achieved results into our maintenance platforms to optimize our day-by-day activities.

In relation to our solar fleet, O&M and Innovation and Sustainability are analysing different approaches to implement predictive maintenance technologies and tools in solar generation.

We are selecting Software as a Service (SaaS) platforms from different suppliers and testing the innovative concept of Algorithm as a Service (AaaS) thanks to the integration of solar predictive models, developed in collaboration with i-EM, into our cloud platform  which is provided by operational data in real-time.

Through the cutting-edge maintenance tools implementation, we are able to achieve both technical and economic benefits.

“The Big Data Solar solution generate predictive alerts with different level of severity, enabling us to promptly apply predictive maintenance activities.”

Towards the Big Data platform of the future

Leveraging on the results achieved in 2016, EGP O&M Control & Monitoring System unit and ICT are currently working on the evolution of the infrastructure, designing O&M platform of the future.

“We aim to provide the end users of each technology with a reliable system powered by smart and friendly interfaces, in order to optimize the way we manage daily operation and maintenance activities.”

In the medium- and long-term, we are moving towards a Platform as a Service (PaaS) approach, enabling both external suppliers and Enel experts to develop specific applications on an Enel platform, through specific APIs and libraries. In this way, we are taking another big step towards the digitalization of O&M activities.