This September in our blog, we talk about the Generation Control Centers. Eloy Fernández Felipe, Head of the Department of Operation and Maintenance and the Control Center at Norvento, tells us about the specific characteristics of renewable sources and that determine its operating strategy.
Electric power generation plants, that use renewable energy sources present some specific characteristics, which determine their operating strategy. Characteristics such as the variability of the resource and its prediction uncertainty, or the dispersion of the generation points require the system operator – Electricity Grid or Spanish Electricity Grid (REE) – to have an exhaustive and segregated knowledge about them, as well as a capacity to maneuver over the generation with a short response period, allowing renewable energy to be safely integrated into the electrical system, under defined grid standards.
Opposite to the reduced number of large traditional generation plants with controllable resources, the high number of renewable energy producers present in the electrical system requires a safe and efficient communication with Spanish Electricity Grid (REE), requiring the plants to be assigned to approved Generation Control Centre (CCG). The GCC receive the information from attached generators and transmit it permanently to the Spanish Electricity Grid Renewable Energy Control Centre (CECRE). If necessary, they also transmit the orders in the reverse direction, such as the limitation instructions of the CECRE to the generators, to ensure the correct matching between generation and the system´s demand at any time..
This leads to two key improvement possibilities: First, increasing the reliability of wind turbines will significantly increase the energy yield from the wind. Second, knowing about the condition of a component beforehand or about the time when it will most probably fail helps to better plan service assignments. In combination, this means a reduction of the downtimes as well as the operational costs, both directly entering the levelized costs of electricity (LCOE). Certainly, the latter is a direct measure for the acceptance and competitiveness of wind energy compared to other (renewable) energy sources.
According to the provisions of Royal Decree 413/2014 and the adaptation of the Operating Procedure P.O. 9., all production facilities from renewable sources with an installed power bigger than 1MW – or groups of smaller facilities that add up to such power, must send real-time telemetric readings (TTR) to the system operator. It is also required that installations bigger than 5MW will be obliged, in addition to the above, to execute the instructions received from the operator through the GCC (i.e., they must regulate their power on demand). For the first ones, in non-adjustable plants, transmitted in real-time variable is the instantaneous active power. In adjustable plants, reactive power, mains voltage and switch position are also provided.
The GCC must be provided with a reliable and redundant connection with the Electricity Grid Control Centre, as well as have the technical resources that provide the capacity to control, manage, and monitor assigned generation. Additionally, they must have presence and full functionality and communication 24 hours a day, 365 days a year as well.
Apart from the services previously described, in which the Control Centre act as Delegated Offices of REE, these also have great potential in terms of monitoring, control and operation of the generation plants themselves of any renewable technology: wind, hydraulic, photovoltaic … in any national or international location. Among others, it is possible to fulfill tasks as:
- Continuous operation of the plants to optimize their production.
- Resetting alerts and alarms according to the defined protocol.
- Supervision and control of the technicians present at the facilities.
- Mobilization and coordination of guard teams.
- Management of discharges, disconnections and limitations with the distributor and with REE.
- Control of meter measurements.
- Preparation of daily, weekly or monthly reports: alarm logs, incident management, production, performance and availability reports.
- Data analysis for any requested variable.
- Preparation and sending of periodic reports to the different administrations: Ministry of Industry, INEGA, APPA, etc.
- Forecasting of energy production, energy control and management.
- Supervision and control of communications.
- Support for monitoring through existing security systems.
The integration of renewable generation plants in a Control Centre provides a series of important benefits for their owners or managers, among which the following stand out:
- Regulatory compliance and correct integration with the system operator.
- Increase in the profitability of the plants, operating them at any time according to an optimization strategy between the available resource and its forecast and the energy sale price and its forecast.
- Reduction of operation and maintenance costs. Thanks to continuous and centralized monitoring, a large number of faults and alerts can be solved remotely, reducing the needs of local equipment and allowing an optimization of resources and an improvement in quality. If interventions in the field are necessary, they are planned according to the weather and the expected repair time, always considering the activation costs compared to the energy not produced. At any time, the field teams are advised and supervised by the Control Center.
- Increased availability and efficiency of the plant. Through this real-time monitoring, potential failures, shutdowns or drops in performance are detected and resolved instantly. This significantly reduces downtime and improves plant availability and profitability.
- Continuous advice by a qualified technical team with experience in the operation and technical decision making in generation facilities.
- Improved integration into the grid: Communication with REE and with distribution companies is improved, resulting in a substantial improvement in the operation of the electrical system.
For the integration of the facilities in the Control Center, the provisions of Royal Decree 1565/2010 regarding connection protocols and the implementation of data exchange between the plant, the GCC and REE will be respected. To establish this exchange, it will be necessary for the client installation to allow the reading of the variables through MODBUS TCP, OPC XML, IEC 104 or IEC 102 and to provide access to the connection parameters necessary to query and write the data required. Additionally, to monitor and operate the installation, access to all SCADA systems will be necessary, either via the web, VNC or remote desktop.
In conclusion, the integration of each generation plant in an approved GCC, in addition to complying with current regulations regarding the shipment of real-time telemetric readings, may allow instant control, that will optimize the profitability and will assure operation in safe conditions. In the current scenario, this will be a fundamental vector for progress towards a robust electricity system with a greater participation of renewable energies.
The Norvento Enerxía Control Center (CCG Norvento) has been working as REE’s Delegate Office since 2008 and has a portfolio of close to 1GW of integrated power. It has extensive experience in the supervision, monitoring and operation of all types of renewable generation facilities, guaranteeing the best results in terms of quality, productivity and profitability of the facilities. It is made up of a technical team of the highest level in the management of wind farms, photovoltaic plants, hydroelectric plants, biogas plants, biomass plants, microgrids … and provides a service totally adapted to the client’s needs, with a direct communication 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to solve any type of incident that may occur.
Do you want to know more about the Generation Control Center? Visit our page.