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Innovation in generation

New technologies in power generation

In the field of Generation, we are committed to technological improvement managed from an open innovation model that uses innovation as a key tool in the improvement and development of the entire value chain. This will involve collaborating with external entities – start-ups, suppliers and research centres – while encouraging innovation internally through specific programmes such as "Make it Happen" and "PowerG".

Aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals

 

Sustainable development goals

SDG 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure

SDG 11: Sustainable cities and communities

With the aim of improving efficiency in energy generation and to reduce the impact on the environment, we have developed technological innovation projects in a number of strategic areas. 

 

Energy storage

  • Energy storage is key to the decarbonisation of the sector. This is why Endesa is leading its development through pioneering initiatives at European level with the objective of identifying technological solutions that reduce the costs of energy storage, reducing its dependence on critical raw materials and its environmental impact. In this regard, the most important projects include the following:
  • The SELF Project, in Melilla: Use of second-life batteries from electric vehicles as stationary storage.
  • The demonstration project for vanadium redox flow batteries, developed in Mallorca and currently in the construction phase.
  • The two demonstration projects for iron redox flow batteries and hybrid cathode, in the Canary Islands and currently in the development phase.
  • There should also be special mention for the feasibility studies for the development of a long-term energy storage system in Tenerife, using liquid air energy storage technology.

Robotic solutions

These initiatives are aimed at introducing new robotics solutions for the inspection of assets and to incorporate autonomous robots as support elements during the tasks associated with the operation of generation plants. For their development we worked hand-in-hand with numerous start-ups and technology companies to develop these projects, providing support during the development of new features and adapting solutions in each use case.

One of the main objectives of these projects is the improvement of inspection activities in maintenance tasks, both by developing new technical capabilities and reducing risks for people.

This involved the continued validation of solutions based on mobile robots to inspect industrial assets and autonomous drones for the inspection of ducts and channels in hydraulic power plants. We also collaborated with start-ups for the development of specific solutions for the inspection of wind components in the field.

With regard to support robots for exploitation, we developed specific projects for the validation of solutions for the automatic cleaning of wind turbine blades, cleaning of photovoltaic modules and for the automatic clearing of vegetation in solar photovoltaic plants.

Improvements to and construction of new generation plants

In order to have assets capable of better adapting to market requirements, we developed technological solutions focussed on improving plant efficiency and increasing operational flexibility. These include the following:

  • Flexibility project in hydroelectric plants. This consists of two demonstration projects: One to provide variable speed to the Les Illes plant (Barcelona), which is already in operation and another, under development, at the Guillena pumping plant (Seville).
  • Machine learning models to improve predictive maintenance in the wind area. We also implemented improvements in the controls of wind turbine models that will enable their performance to be improved and we developed pilot schemes to validate new technology for the solution of operational problems. We have also started testing solutions to prevent the generation of ice on the blades.
  • In the photovoltaic area, we assessed artificial intelligence solutions to improve the scheduling of module washing and to detect problems in inverters.
  • Finally, we are developing an operation aid system in the renewable control room. It is based on Artificial Intelligence and will improve the response time to incidents by reducing production losses.

In the case of the construction of new renewable generation plants, we are developing solutions focussed on two aspects. The first involves the reduction of the time required for the job to be completed by identifying technologies for the pre-assembly of photovoltaic modules. And secondly, improvement in safety aspects for workers on site, reducing existing risks, with the validation of artificial viewing systems and protection systems for load lifting processes.

Circular economy and reduction of impact

We are developing two pioneering projects in Spain focussed on the second life of wind assets and the battery sector.

  • The first of these is a project to develop a wind blade recycling plant. It focusses on the recovery of glass and carbon fibres that make up the composites for the blades of wind turbines. This would enable a second use of the material in other industrial processes. This project is part of the European initiative Blades2Build, framed within the HORIZON 2020 aid programme.
  • The second project focuses on the  process for recycling lithium-ion batteries, paying special attention to batteries sourced from the automotive sector. The aim is to develop the first lithium-ion battery recycling plant in Spain and provide a valid solution for the sector throughout Spain. It would also incorporate a line for making use of batteries for second-life solutions.

With regard to the reduction of the environmental impact from generation activities, we are developing pilot projects in photovoltaic plants to validate the compatibility of power generation and agricultural production.

There should also be special mention for the initiatives developed to improve the protection systems for birds in the vicinity of wind farms, based on cameras and artificial intelligence.

We have not only worked on improving the reduction of the environmental impact, but also on that of workplace risks in operation and construction activities. This involved incorporating the use of artificial intelligence technologies for the identification of risk situations by workers. We should also add the development of a digital registration system for controlling access to wind turbines during maintenance tasks, whose objective is to restrict potential accidents resulting from a lack of coordination with the control centre.    

Our projects about innovation in generation

Continue reading about our commitment

Open innovation

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