iAMP-Hydro, a new project that will improve the sustainability of EU hydroelectric power

hydroelectric power plant Spain
Rosa Fernández, Marketing Manager at Cuerva
Press Release September 26, 2023

A newly launched project aims to increase the sustainability of hydropower in the European Union

Granada. 26/09/2023. New project will improve EU hydropower sustainability with potential to save €1 billion per year.

The project will also reduce CO2 emissions by 1,260 tonnes, create 10,000 future-proof jobs, and enable environmentally sustainable flow regulation using digital solutions 

Cuerva will be part of the €4.1 million Horizon Europe project, led by Trinity College Dublin, which aims to develop digital solutions to improve the efficiency, flexibility and sustainability of the European Union's hydropower fleet. This project, called iAMP-Hydro (Intelligent Asset Management Platform for Hydropower), has the potential to have a major impact on the EU's energy sustainability, as it is estimated that 50% of the current hydropower fleet will need to be upgraded by 2030.  

In addition to Cuerva and Trinity College Dublin, the list of participants in this project will also include Easy Hydro Ltd, Suite 5 Data Intelligence Solutions Ltd, CARTIF, EDP, PPC Renewables, WIP, Norce and the Polytechnic University of Bucharest. 

Context and goals

The EU electricity sector is undergoing a fundamental change with increasing digitalization. As a result, electricity systems are more controlled and artificial intelligence and big data are being applied in daily operations. With this project we will prioritize hydropower, to ensure that the same advances are used in this sector, which accounts for one-sixth of both global electricity generation and Spain, and contributes significantly to grid flexibility and energy security, as it can modulate generation very quickly and stop and restart smoothly. Therefore, in the project the researchers will improve the digital operation of existing plants by developing new sensors and digital services that together will form iAMP, a novel intelligent Asset Management Platform that encompasses secure, open and transparent data exchange protocols and three novel digital solutions.

These include condition monitoring and predictive maintenance for hydropower turbines, ecological status monitoring for sustainable water resources management and improved weather and flow forecasting.  

And it is that much of the EU fleet is currently in need of attention, so this means that modernization actions related to digitization in the short and medium term have the potential to have a major impact. Such actions will deliver better services, increase network flexibility, help environmental and socio-economic sustainability, and foster the overall green and digital transition in Europe.

Action plan

The complete package of digital solutions will be validated in a diverse set of five European hydropower plants, 3 of which are located in the province of Granada and operated by Cuerva. These are the Bermejales, La Vega and Bérchules power plants, which will be digitalized to improve their efficiency. With the sensorization of these plants, in combination with advanced big data techniques, it will be possible to predict and prevent possible failures in the hydroelectric equipment, thus reducing costs and increasing the operating time of the plants.  In addition, these plants have been selected for having different power capacities, turbine types, water use, flow and head regimes, climatic conditions and environmental sensitivities. 

In addition, flow predictions will allow for greater plant operability, while probes measuring water depth and water status will allow for better environmental management to reduce alterations in the hydrological and sediment regime, possible changes in water temperature and avoid blocking fish migration corridors. 

The project will increase the technology competitiveness of existing hydropower by reducing operation and maintenance costs by 5-10%, improving generation and revenues, and increasing flexibility and data-driven decision making in hydropower operations. It will also increase the market penetration of renewables in the grid by 8.4 TWh – helping us get closer to the EU 2030 Climate and Energy targets.  

Researchers predict iAMP-Hydro will improve environmental and socio-economic sustainability of the existing hydropower fleet by reducing operating costs by €1 billion per year, reducing CO2 emissions by 1,260 tonnes, creating 10,000 future-proof jobs, and enabling environmentally sustainable flow regulation using digital solutions. 

Current estimations show that the digitalisation of the world's 1,225 GW of existing hydro could increase annual production by 42 TWh, which amounts to $5 billion US in annual operational savings and significant reductions of greenhouse gas emissions. 

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About the author

Rosa Fernández, Marketing Manager at Cuerva
Rosa joined Cuerva in August 2021 to lead and develop the brand-new Marketing department. She holds a Master's degree in International Marketing Management from the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan and a degree in Translation and Interpreting from the University of Granada. With this multi-skilled approach, she is responsible for the strategy and development of marketing, branding, and communication actions for all Cuerva's business areas. Before joining the energy company, she has great experience in large, fast-pased multinational companies. She worked as Branding and Marketing Executive for Shell Italia in Milan and for the UK standards body, British Standards Institution, as Marketing Coordinator, for the Spanish and Italian markets, developing a wide range of global campaigns. E-mail: marketing@cuervaenergia.com
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