Red Eléctrica continues to drive innovation with the undertaking of 64 projects in 2017, with an expected investment in this year exceeding 9 million euros. These projects are part of the new strategy approved last year with the aim of promoting innovation as a lever for growth and improvement of the sustainability of the Red Eléctrica Group in all areas of its business activity. This strategy has four vectors: people, sustainability, technology and digitization.
A network of innovation coordinators has been created with the aim of promoting their deployment, these coordinators will be in charge of facilitating the activity from within the different areas. The Innovation Committee of the Group has been created in order to oversee the process, said committee is composed of directors of representative areas in the innovation process. Also noteworthy is the creation of the Red Eléctrica innovation awards, whose second edition will be held later this year, and which will recognize the most outstanding initiatives in each of the vectors.
Within the scope of the people vector, noteworthy are the initiatives related to the application of new technologies (virtual reality) in occupational safety training of company teams, the robotization of tasks that imply risk and the incorporation of the use of drones for advanced applications in the maintenance of power lines.
In the field of innovation in sustainability, Red Eléctrica is carrying out a project to evaluate the feasibility of replacing the mineral oil used in 400 kilovolt power transformers with biodegradable vegetable oil, which is more sustainable and environmentally friendly. As a result of the good results obtained during the initial tests, the tests will be completed throughout the year with the aim of putting in place a first demostration of this project that the true behaviour of the transformer to be evaluated.
As innovative initiatives in sustainability, noteworthy is the use of electricity infrastructure as elements that favour the mobility of fauna between the different habitats and protected natural areas and the definitive deployment of the innovation project that demonstrated the viability of the recovery of Posidonia oceanica seagrass meadows by undertaking the first Red Eléctrica Marine Forest, a project that will be carried out in the bay of Pollensa (Majorca).
Among the recently started technological innovation projects, the MIGRATE project is a European initiative whose objective is to improve the understanding of the behaviour of the electricity system in a renewable energy scenario in which power electronic devices are applied in order to connect said non-synchronous power to the grid and help maintain system frequency.
Moreover, Red Eléctrica has been leading the Best Paths project since 2014, a project which seeks to help overcome, through five demonstration areas, various technical barriers that the current pan-European electricity network could encounter to safely, efficiently and reliably integrate massive amounts of energy from renewable sources. These two projects are carried out within the framework of the European programmes for research, technological development and innovation, Horizon 2020 and the Seventh Framework Programme respectively.
Throughout 2017, Red Eléctrica will launch Grid 2030, a programme to promote long-term research by means of calls for bids opened at the European level for the financing of proposals that may lead to the integration of new technologies into the transmission grid.
The company is also working on the Stability FACTS project, partially financed by ERDF funds and included with the framework of the Innterconecta programme. The goal is to develop a prototype that, combining power electronics technology and a very fast response storage system, increases the frequency and voltage control capacity in isolated electrical systems, hence improving its stability.
In order to maintain the stability of an isolated system, such as that of the island of Tenerife, which needs to manage the integration of renewable energies, the ALISIOS project is undertaking in order to assess, in an initial phase, the impact of the installation of an electricity storage system to improve the quality of the frequency of the system, mitigate sudden variations in renewable generation and increase the contribution of these energies to the energy mix under safe conditions in order to ensure the security of supply.
Also in the field of energy storage, monitoring work will continue this year regarding the ALMACENA system, the lithium-ion battery system with a power output of 1 megawatt (MW) and 3 MWh of energy, installed in the Carmona substation (Seville), in order to conduct a comparison with other electrochemical storage systems. This initiative, coordinated by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), has the participation of other TSOs and electric utility companies from around the world.
Lastly, digitization, a cross-cutting vector that permeates all the activity regarding innovation, will benefit from a large number of initiatives to be carried out as part of the Group’s Digital Transformation Strategy, and whose definition will also be addressed during 2017.
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