Hydroelectricity uses water from rivers or stored in dams to produce electricity through the rotation of turbine blades. To manage hydroelectric plants and plan the production or storage of water and evaluate their impacts on the power market, it is necessary to know not only the rain, but also the water contained within the snowpack (snow water equivalent).
In situ measurements combined with satellite and meteorological model could improve the estimation of the snow cover and of snow water equivalent and reduce exposure to their natural variability. A proper estimation of water content in the snow could let energy producers to better manage the natural resources and make more efficient the renewable power production.
To address these challenges and promising business prospects, ESA in cooperation with Enel Global Trading S.p.A. (also referred to as EGT), which is the Enel Group Company that carries out energy management services of Enel power plants and has a quite large cluster of hydrological power plants mainly located over Alpine and Apennine areas, has issued the present Announcement of Opportunity (AO) for feasibility studies to investigate the technical feasibility and economic viability of space based applications to support nowcasting and forecasting of hydroelectric power generation.
The high-level objectives of the AO are to:
- Demonstrate technical feasibility of the proposed services, and establish a mock-up / prototype; to produce an estimation of the snow water equivalent and snow cover;
- Define business plan and models for service operations;
- Define a roadmap for services implementation and demonstration (potentially through a follow‐up ESA co-funded demonstration project) that would start in 2022;
- Secure support from users and potential customers (EGT and/or others) for potential follow-on and commercial stage.
This challenge provides contribution to the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to transform our world:
- SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
- Enabling M2M communication / IoT communication for in-situ sensors;
- Geo-referencing sensor data related e.g. to infrastructure condition;
- Snow water equivalent and snow cover are key variables to manage hydroelectric power production, as they are the main water storage over the mountains.
- A tool is necessary to estimate snow water equivalent and snow cover in the most relevant areas for hydropower plants. A better evaluation of the water stored in the snow could improve the forecast of hydroelectric energy production with positive effects on the business management.GNSS to measure water level from reflected signals (using GNSS-R instrument).Provide communication for other imagery platforms (RPAS, HAPS).SCENARIO/BACKGOUND
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is one of the great challenges of the coming years. Sustainable development requires more and better use of renewable energies such as hydroelectric, wind and solar energy, which will therefore become increasingly important in the energy market. Hydroelectricity uses water from rivers or stored in dams to produce electricity through the rotation of turbine blades. To manage hydroelectric plants and plan the production or storage of water and evaluate their impacts on the power market, it is necessary to know not only the rain, but also the water contained within the snowpack (snow water equivalent). In situ measurements combined with satellite and meteorological model could improve the estimation of the snow cover and of snow water equivalent and reduce exposure to their natural variability.
Hydroelectric power is significantly affected by the natural variability of available water inside rivers. To make the renewable power production more efficient it is necessary to have accurate measurements of snow water equivalent and snow cover, so to be able to predict the inflow at turbine. A combination of satellite data, weather forecast modelling and in situ data can improve the estimation of these snow variables.
Challenges and opportunities:
Specific use cases and requirements from Enel Global Trading S.p.A. are provided below.
Hydroelectric power is an important component of the Enel production portfolio ensuring that the Corporation has a significant exposition to the natural variability of the natural resource. The main portion of the production is over Alps and the component of the potential energy is stored on the snow/ice layer over the mountains. A proper estimation of water content in the snow can provide information for Enel to better manage the natural resources and the portfolio exposure to hydroelectricity. For this scope, the challenge must be addressed towards the development of a tool to produce an estimation of the snow water equivalent and snow cover, taking into account the following.
- Get a weekly sampling of measurements; alternatively, a minimum time frequency of twice a month can be accepted;
- A synergy between satellite data and weather forecast modelling is requested, as well as in situ measurements for validation;
- Data format should include information on longitude, latitude, altitude, time; csv or xlsx file formats can be suitable for this scope;
- Pilot areas (geographic coverage) must be selected over a set of geographical grid points (to be defined by EGT). It is anticipated that the geographical area will contain the Alpine region.
ADDED VALUE OF SPACE ASSETS AND OTHER TECHNOLOGIES
Earth Observation (SatEO) imagery can be used for e.g.:
- Deriving snow cover area in case hydro plants were located in the high mountains and part of the water used for production comes from snow. (Hydro power plant operators need information on snow coverage and melting to manage their basin and plan production);
- Monitoring changes in water resources of lakes and reservoirs to support optimised hydropower production planning (not applicable to EGT use cases).
The specific scope of the activities presented in response to this AO shall be defined by the Tenderer, but it shall in any case:
- Be in line with the high-level objectives set forth in section 1;
- Characterise innovative space-enabled services potentially combined with breakthrough technology (Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning, Big Data, Internet of Things, etc.) relevant to the use case.
- Customer driven. The bidder shall either address Enel Global Trading S.p.A. use cases (ref. to section Enel Global Trading S.p.A. use cases) or other requirements related to nowcasting and forecasting of hydropower generation provided by customers / users directly involved by the Bidder. In the latter case, support of those potential customers (other than EGT) shall be evidenced in letter of interests to be attached to the APQ.
- Propose services relying on at least one space asset;
- Assess the economic, societal and environmental benefits of the proposed services by including the addressed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);
- Bring operational benefits to users and potential customers (reduction of intervention time, etc.) proving economic viability;
- Have a technology readiness level so that they can operationalized in 6-12 months following the proposed activity;
- Be compliant with relevant regulations and respect privacy of individuals.
Proposals in response to this AO shall propose innovative technical and business approaches to combine space assets (including latest development of satellite earth observation imagery and other imagery sources e.g.: HAPS) with breakthrough technologies (such as ML/AI/Data analytics) to optimize hydroelectric power generation, addressing the areas of interest provided in the activity description.
Proposals shall cover a study assessing the technical and business feasibility of the proposed service(s), develop a mock-up / prototype and propose a roadmap for potential pilots that would start in 2022.
- Enabling M2M communication / IoT communication for in-situ sensors;
ESA will bear up to 50% of the acceptable cost (up to a max. estimated price of 120,000 Euro).To the extent that activities are performed by micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (i.e. enterprises fulfilling the criteria defined in the European Commission Recommendation of 6 May 2003 (2003/361/EC) or as updated), said activities are funded up to 80 % by the Agency (up to a max. of 96,000 Euro of an estimated cost of 120,000 Euro), depending on the funding level authorized by the related National Delegation(s).
Furthermore, the selected Tenderer(s) will also have the possibility to collaborate with Enel Global Trading S.p.A. with a dedicated contract and get additional support. Any conditions for potential support of Enel Global Trading S.p.A. shall be negotiated directly between Enel Global Trading S.p.A. and the Tenderer. Nevertheless, it is anticipated that Enel Global Trading S.p.A. support and participation in the present activity trough the Contract with the Tenderer will be subject to receiving, at least, a non-exclusive license on the intellectual property rights resulting from the contract and is conditioned to the positive outcome of Enel group internal procedures and controls.
The remainder has to be financed by the Tenderer through private sector direct and/or indirect co-funding and/or by the users based on terms and conditions to be agreed upon.