Categories: NewsBy Published On: April 23rd, 2024


Categories: News


Ph. Kees Streefkerk on Unsplash

Nowadays, hydropower stands as one of the cornerstones of renewable energy, harnessing the natural force of water to generate electricity. However, in an era marked by technological advancement and environmental consciousness, the traditional image of hydropower is undergoing a profound transformation. Enter the Di-Hydro project, an initiative funded by the EU Horizon Europe programme, aiming to change the way hydropower plants operate.

Digital Hydropower

As a starting point, Di-Hydro envisions a future where hydropower plants are not only smarter and more efficient but also deeply committed to environmental sustainability. The project aims to achieve this vision through the development and implementation of cutting-edge digital and smart Decision-Making Platform (DMP), ensuring that hydropower remains a vital player in the transition to a greener future. In addition, the DMP will aid operators to decide when to perform specific routine operations, such as cleaning and maintenance, taking into account multiple factors to identify the most suitable time to undergo such operations.

One of the key innovations introduced by Di-Hydro is the Decision-Making Platform and Digital Twin technology. These tools, tailored specifically for the hydropower sector, promise to bridge the digital gap among hydropower plants, enabling them with the insights and capabilities needed to optimise their operational performance while minimising environmental impact. Also, these technologies will help power plants to be more efficient in their operations, ensuring a better production of hydropower energy.

Challenges of Digital Hydropower: Di-Hydro objectives

Indeed, the scope of Di-Hydro is vast, spanning three years and involving a Consortium of 13 partners across 7 European countries. This diverse partnership includes research and innovation centres, hydropower plant management companies, energy producers, SMEs, and digital system experts, reflecting the project’s interdisciplinary approach to innovation.

The project’s focus areas are comprehensive, addressing key challenges faced by the hydropower sector:

  • Structural Health Monitoring: Introducing a real-time monitoring system to assess the structural health of hydropower structures, supporting automatic decision-making and providing Damage Tolerance assessments.
  • Condition Monitoring: Utilising wireless sensors for comprehensive monitoring of critical machinery, issuing intelligent reports and early maintenance warnings to optimise performance.
  • Biofouling Prevention: Introducing ultrasonic technology to prevent and clean biofouling in hydropower heat exchangers, reducing economic impact and downtime.
  • Unmanned Underwater Inspection: Enhancing maintenance and safety through advanced unmanned underwater vehicles that visually inspect water reservoirs and pipelines.
  • Environmental and Biodiversity Monitoring: Developing upstream and downstream water quality sensors to monitor environmental parameters and biodiversity, enabling forecasting and informed decision-making.
  • Water and Flow Monitoring/Forecasting Models: Integrating weather and water flow monitoring data to develop AI prediction models for short, medium, and long-term forecasting.

These technologies will be tested and applied in three distinct use cases across Greece, Italy, and Serbia, each representing a specific aspect of hydropower generation. From environmental monitoring to infrastructure management, these use cases will provide invaluable insights into the potential and challenges of modernising and digitalising hydropower.

In essence, the Di-Hydro project brings forward a commitment to innovation and sustainability. By harnessing the power of digitalisation and smart technologies, it paves the way for a future where hydropower remains a reliable and environmentally friendly source of energy in the global quest for a greener tomorrow.

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