We’ve developed a system of communication that allows us to guarantee maximum safety to workers inspecting derivation tunnels, dozens of kilometre-long tunnels that carry water to our hydroelectric plants.
Surrounded by the mountainous area of the Bellunes Alps, where our Soverzene hydroelectric plant has been producing energy from the waters of the Piave for almost 70 years. It is a shallow valley characterised by steep slopes that run up to Col Nudo, the highest peak in the area, where the plant named after Achille Gaggia continues to produce enough energy to meet the needs of about 200,000 households every year.
Where the light doesn’t reach
At Soverzene, we’ve tested an innovative system of communication for the first time that will allow us to guarantee maximum safety to the operators inspecting the derivation tunnels of our dams. These are dozens of kilometre-long tunnels that transport the water we collect from the basins of the dams to the hydroelectric plants. In these tunnels, sunlight never arrives, they are always full of water and are inspected periodically to make sure there are no structural failures or obstructions.
“As things are now, the workers that deal with inspections remain in the tunnels for several hours without the possibility of communicating with the outside. In case of emergency, they try to report it with acoustic signals.”
The new communications system involves the use of an antenna installed on tripods to be positioned at the beginning and the end of the tunnel. During the inspection, the operator will wear a special backpack equipped with a small antenna and a router that will allow the use of mobile phones throughout the inspection.
During the inspection, it will be possible to communicate with the outside through common applications that we use on our smartphones every day. In this way, the worker will be able to signal potential emergencies and share information about what goes on inside the derivation tunnel.
The main expected benefit is in terms of safety, one of the greatest priorities for Enel Green Power, which has always aimed for the goal of “Zero Accidents” in all of its projects, but the quality of work will benefit as well, thanks to the signalling in real time of what the worker observes in the tunnel.
“Following the initial tests at Soverzene, in the coming months we will repeat these activities in other similar inspections. The new communications system will guarantee improved safety and efficiency.”
We expect to use a similar type of communication inside other tunnels in our dams, as well, where operators go daily, remaining alone for 2-4 hours without being able to communicate with colleagues outside. In this case, the installations would be permanent, ensuring a greater level of safety in all the activities of the dam guard.