Enel Green Power is launching a contest to make run-of-river plants even more sustainable and to increase their ability to protect the environment and river ecosystems. The call is meant for companies and start-ups, designers and inventors: the challenge is open
Improving hydropower plants that use flowing water like rivers and streams with a solution that makes plants more sustainable, keeping the water level constant in the discharge drains in case of grid failures. All of this while protecting the environment, with economically convenient costs and using equipment and components already available on the market but combining them into a single solution.
It almost seems like a riddle, a difficult nuisance. But that’s the challenge that Enel Green Power has posed to companies and start-ups, designers and inventors with the Open Innovability Hydro Challenge.
Protect the environment
The quick regulation of water flows into the turbines of hydropower plants makes them more agile and reactive compared to those powered by gas or steam.
Interruptions of the natural water flow can have a significant impact on the river ecosystem and on the environment if they are not carefully and efficiently regulated.
Systems and instruments must effectively contribute to managing the flow and to maintaining the correct water level in the dam, in the basin upstream of the closure, in the turbines and in the discharge downstream of the dam.
Run-of-river hydropower plants, located on rivers and waterways, have a smaller size and power capacity that require the best possible tracking of the river flow, even more exact than a large dam because river ecosystems are even more sensitive to water level changes than lakes and reservoirs.
What are we looking for?
In many cases, to avoid disturbing the river environment, power plants guarantee a continuous water release from the turbines, even when they are not producing energy, to avoid affecting flora and fauna.
It’s a question of balance that must always be maintained, even when abnormal situations occur, like the one we’ve put at the centre of the Open Innovability Hydro Challenge.
We are looking for technological solutions that, in case of grid failures, can be used to dissipate energy, granting the respect of the level of the discharge drain without causing serious anomalies in water levels.
The proposal to solve this need must use products or systems that are already available on the market. Participants are asked to indicate a product on the market, accompanied by technical/economic analysis in respect of the requirements, which are available on the Open Innovability platform dedicated to the challenge.
The best solution, judged by an Enel Green Power commission based on its verified technical and economic solidity and respect for the requirements indicated in the rules, will be chosen and awarded 5,000 euro. Connect to Open Innovability to find out more about the challenge, and read the rules to see the terms and conditions for participation.