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The Future of Hydroelectric is Digital

5 min.

The Future of Hydroelectric is Digital

Enel Green Power’s Big Data Hydro architecture will allow us to maximise the performance of hydroelectric plants and quickly identify potential malfunctions through the use of techniques of statistical analysis.

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Innovation is racing forward at Enel Green Power, even for technologies that have long since celebrated their hundredth birthday. Hydroelectric is the oldest source of renewable energy, but is is keeping up with the times, thanks to new optimisation techniques for the plants and predictive maintenance.

Each one of our plants generates an infinite quantity of numbers and data regarding its activity every day, which until now have been available only locally and on very short historical series. This made it impossible to carry out statistical analysis able to highlight potential deviations from correct functioning or cross-examination of data from maintenance operations.

 

"In December 2016, we approved the project Big Data Hydro, then officially launched in January. Enel Green Power has invested a total of 2.5 million euro."

 

The initiative aims to improve and maximise the activities of EGP’s entire hydroelectric fleet. Through the Big Data Hydro architecture, we use the data from the functioning of our plants to optimise their operation and we can quickly identify potential malfunctions through the use of statistical analysis.

 

A concrete and gradual approach

We chose to test the Big Data Hydro project on five pilot plants in Italy (Soverzene, Presenzano, Nazzano, Isola Serafini and Eume) which together make up about 2% of our fleet in terms of electricity generation and profitability. These are important plants which will allow us to measure the concrete benefits of our proposed approach.

All the information collected at the plants is sent to our cloud platform, in a “Data Lake” able to collect and catalogue a large about of data, where we bring together also the other existing databases related to the costs and maintenance of our plants. We will then apply the statistical and Big Data algorithms to the Data Lake to maximise operational performance and minimise the cost of plant operation.

 

"On May 18th we reached the first project milestone, 12 days ahead of schedule: the connection of the Soverzene plant to the Data Lake."

 

Initial benefits

While, thanks to our ICT, we are completing the connection to the data lake for all our pilot plants, our colleagues at Operation & Maintenance have already started to use the data available in the cloud to create visualisations of the functioning of the plants in real time. In this way, all the operators can gain access from a computer or smartphone, quickly understanding, in case of an alarm, what is actually happening and how to intervene. Further proof of the value of digitization and connectivity applied to our plants.

 

"The Big Data Hydro projects is going full speed ahead. We aim to connect all of the pilot plants to the Data Lake in the month of October."


Starting from the end of 2017 and throughout 2018, we will apply the statistical and Big Data techniques to the data of our five pilot plants and we will measure the concrete benefits obtained. If the results are what we expect, we will go full speed ahead to connect our entire hydroelectric fleet to the data lake and capitalise on the know-how developed by the Big Data Hydro project.

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