INESC TEC part of European project to improve the performance of hydroelectric power plants

The development of new technology solutions to improve the performance of hydroelectric power plants. This is the goal of the €18M European project XFLEX Hydro, involving INESC TEC’s Centre for Power and Energy Systems (CPES) and Centre for Industrial Engineering and Management (CEGI).

These technologies, developed by 19 institutions from seven countries – Portugal, Switzerland, France, Austria, Spain, Germany and the UK – can effectively contribute to a low carbon energy system, thus helping to meet the proposed targets for renewable energy production – which, in Europe’s case, are set to 32% by 2030.

“The main goal of the project is the development of new technology solutions to integrate different types of hydroelectric power plants, thus aiming to improve their performance and efficiency and contribute to the decarbonisation of the energy sector – by favouring a more significant integration of other renewable energy sources, characterised by high temporal variability and very low controllability ”, said Carlos Moreira, project coordinator at INESC TEC and professor at the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto (FEUP).

The key technology solutions to be developed include modern turbine systems (as well as pumps, in pumped-storage plants) with constant and variable speed, intelligent controllers and a hybrid system consisting in the integration of a power storage battery into conventional run-of-the-river hydroelectric power plants. The installation and demonstration of said systems will take place at hydroelectric plants in Portugal, Switzerland and France.  In Portugal, the Frades, Alqueva, Alto Lindoso and Caniçada plants will test modern turbine and pump systems.

The XFLEX HYDRO project was formally presented by the European Commission at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 25), which took place in Madrid, in early December. By 2023, the end date of the project, the Commission is expected to receive a road map to improve the adoption of technology solutions for the entire hydroelectric fleet, including policy and market recommendations for governments, regulating bodies and industry.

The INESC TEC team responsible for the development of this project includes Bernardo Silva, Carlos Moreira, João Peças Lopes Maria Helena Vasconcelos, Manuel Vaz Castro, Nuno Fulgêncio (CPES); Armando Leitão and Luís Guimarães (CEGI).

Besides INESC TEC, EDP Produção and EDP CNET are the Portuguese institutions that participate in the project.

The Swiss institution École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) is the leading entity of the project. In addition to EPFL and the aforementioned Portuguese institutions, the XFLEX HYDRO includes other four Swiss entities – ALPIQ AG., ANDRITZ HYDRO AG, SUUTE OCCIDENTALE and POWER VISION ENGINEERING -, five French institutions – ASSOCIATION POUR LA RECHERCHE ET LE DEVELOP DES METHODES ET PROCESSUS INDUSTRIELS, COMMISSARIAT AL ENERGIE ATOMIC ET AUX ENERGIES ALTERNATIVES, ELECTRICITE FRANCE, GE HYDRO FRANCE and SUPERGRID INSTITUTE -, one Austrian group – ANDRITZ HYDRO GMBH -, two German bodies – UNIVERSITAET VO HOLDING CO. KG – two Spanish institutions – UNIVERSITAT POLITECNICA DE CATALUNYA and ZABALA INNOVATION CONSULTING – and an association from the United Kingdom – INTERNATIONAL HYDROPOWER ASSOCIATION.

The XFLEX HYDRO project received €18M from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation program, under agreement number 857832.

The INESC TEC researchers mentioned in this news piece are associated with INESC TEC and FEUP.


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