Exploring new business options as technology keeps developing and put into practice inventing solutions that improve processes are key steps in EDPR’s value creation strategy.
During 2017 EDPR launched innovative projects focused on adding value to existing areas of the business, such as the combination of existing power plants (wind and hydro, in alliance with EDP) with solar PV and storage. These are tangible examples of combined effort with partners and suppliers with the goal of bringing the renewable industry forward.
At the same time the Company’s high-skilled teams kept implementing new solutions in day-to-day business operations, boosting value creation through the application of innovative and lean initiatives.
FLOATING SOLAR – A JOINT EFFORT WITH EDP
Generating electricity since January 2017 in the Alto Rabagão reservoir in Northern Portugal this project is a combined effort of EDP Produção, EDP Comercial and EDP Renováveis in which each company of the group brings its expertise to the dashboard.
The experimental solar plant was the world’s first power plant to combine hydro and solar technologies. It has an installed capacity of 0.2 MW and occupies 2 500 square meters, floating in waters 60 m depth. The 840 solar panels installed are expected to deliver 300 MWh/year of clean energy to the hydro power plant substation already existent nearby.
This is the first project where the floating panels work in tandem with the dam’s hydroelectric rotors, meaning that the solar panels produce energy during the day while saving hydro power to compete during intermittent demand peaks. When there is no demand the electricity produced by the solar panels allows the hydro plant to be autonomous from the network, consuming renewable energy to keep its systems running.
One of the main goals of the pilot, in which EDPR’s expertise is vital, is to compare the offshore solar production versus a similar plant located onshore nearby. It’s been proven that if the panels reach an excessive temperature its performance decreases. Those installed in the floating plant, naturally refrigerated, are able to deliver a better performance than the similar plant onshore.
This solution combined with the fact that floating solar plants would need less space than onshore to reach the same installed capacity, as floating power plants do not need to avoid terrain constrains due to the morphology of the lands, will open new opportunities for this brand new technology.
While studies in Alto Rabagão will continue, the EDP group is already considering the extension of this experience to larger facilities.
HYBRID TECHNOLOGIES – COMBINING WIND, SOLAR AND STORAGE
In 2017 EDPR installed, in collaboration with Vestas, an array of solar panels directly connected with one operating wind turbine generator in “El Conilete” wind farm (Andalucia, Spain). This installation will provide deeper knowledge about the benefits of combining both technologies. This option has several upsides, as it makes use of the existing infrastructure with almost no investment, excluding the solar panels, as the new capacity will take advantage of inverters, transformers, switchgears and cables. A new software was developed between Vestas and EDPR to control and monitor the performance of the combined generator.
A second phase of this project has already been launched, consisting in the addition of coupled batteries to create a combined wind, solar and storage generator. EDPR will benefit in this project from the experience acquired in the storage systems it has already installed in its solar and wind power plants in Romania.
INNOVATING IN DAY-TO-DAY OPERATIONS
After more than a decade of continuous expansion EDPR’s capacity to deliver top quality assets has been more than proven. Always looking for improvement, 2017 saw new innovative solutions in the construction and commissioning procedures of our power plants, making the process faster, safer and more environmentally friendly.
As an example, in the Meadow Lake V wind farm (Indiana, USA), on top of the already established “98 out of the gate” program (target is to reach 98% of availability in each turbine as fast as possible) that resulted in 99% pre-COD availability generating 22.7 million KWh of test energy, field-driven innovations piloted by EDPR’s team in collaboration with Mortenson, civil contractor, successfully crystalized in the completion of a full scale stay-form foundation pedestal which eliminated risk associated with heavy materials, equipment, and suspended overhead loads from the turbine foundation and reduced the cost while improving safety for the construction workers.
Another initiative launched was the utilization of a digital transition process – making this the first project that turned 100% digital documents to EDPR. This has an estimated savings of $30,000 in paper and printing costs, with an additional $30,000 of savings in administrative costs to assemble binders and store and scan documents into internal document management system.
CORPORATE-WIDE PLANNING TOOL
During 2017 EDPR also implemented a new planning methodology based on a single tool and integrated process throughout the organization. Effective implementation lowered lead times, decreased budgeting work peaks, allowed for planning full useful life of assets, and improved scenario and reforecasting capabilities. The new planning system is cloud-based, easy to access to all the personnel involved from any geography, thus improving work-life balance and data integrity and accountability.
As a direct upside, it will add important insights to top level discussion and a deeper understanding of business driver impact on financial performance, helping EDPR to reach another level in the business analysis. During 2018 the tool will keep its roll-out to all the departments involved in the budgeting process of the company.