Real-time automatic management of the El Hierro hydro-wind power station

The project supports the system operator and also enables the integration of renewable energy into the El Hierro electricity system to be maximised.

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El Hierro is an island belonging to the Canary Islands that has a unique facility, the El Hierro hydro-wind power station, made up of a wind farm and a pumped-storage hydro-electric facility. Its ultimate goal is to enable the auto-sufficiency of the island with 100% renewable energy, and is designed to cover a part of the demand with wind energy and store surplus power in the form of potential energy by pumping water between two reservoirs located at different heights. The water stored in the upper reservoir will be released into the lower reservoir generating electricity in the process, and thus supply energy that can complement wind and thermal energy mix when there is insufficient wind.

The high variability of wind, and its status as a primary energy source that is hard to predict, forces the operator of Red Electrica de España’s control centre on the Canary Islands to make a huge effort to constantly and actively supervise the situation, in order to safely integrate as much wind energy as possible into the system.

The outcome of the project "Real-Time Automatic Management of the El Hierro hydro-wind power station" has been a software tool that automates part of the operator’s monitoring process, generating alarms that reach the control centre and that provide support to the decision-making process and thus enables efficiency gains on two fronts: on the one hand optimising the management process performed by the operator, minimising the response times and, secondly, increasing the share of renewable energy integrated into the El Hierro electricity system, while constantly maintaining the safety standards that ensure the continuity of supply on the island.

Red Electrica de España operates the El Hierro electricity system, maximising the integration of renewables into the system ensuring, at all times, the security and continuity of supply.

The project described has received a distinction in the category of Innovation as one of the projects presented in the Fourth Edition of the Red Eléctrica eficiente Awards (2016); an annual campaign launched to promote initiatives from different areas of Red Eléctrica, aimed at promoting sustainability and energy efficiency as strategic areas of the Company, reducing the consumption of natural resources and CO2 emissions.