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Managing hybrid power plants – intelligently and flexibly

image credit: The hybrid power plant installed by Siemens on the Galapagos island of Isabela. Source: Siemens AG
Hans Koopman's picture
Head of Hybrid Solutions Siemens Energy

Driving business development of hybrid power plant solutions within Siemens Energy.

  • Member since 2021
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  • Sep 1, 2021
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What do digital management systems of hybrid power plants look like that make heavy use of renewables? To answer that question, let’s first look at the functional elements of these power plants: First, you have renewables (wind, solar), which help to achieve a high level of decarbonization. You also need storage systems, such as batteries bridging fluctuations and enabling optimal use of available energy. And finally, efficient gas turbines should be part of the mix to ensure availability during longer doldrums, which later may be increasingly co-fired with green hydrogen.

For such a setup you need a smart as well as flexible management system. At Siemens Energy we have such a system and it’s called ‘Omnivise Hybrid Control’, based on the SPPA-T3000 technology with more than 3.000 installations worldwide. It makes it possible to flexibly manage the unique setups that hybrid power plants consist of with one single operating system that’s easy to handle. It comes with a remote or central control center based on a SCADA application server that allows the operator to monitor and control all plant processes. It stores all the relevant data concerning the plant’s performance. And it can be augmented with predictive modeling for early failure identification.

Maximizing productivity and efficiency

One module for the Omnivise Hybrid Control-System I’d like to highlight, and that’s the ‘Dispatch Optimizer’ providing economic dispatch optimization based on weather forecasts, technical and financial measurements, and other parameters.

Let’s look at how it works by taking the weather as an example. The ‘Dispatch Optimizer’ calculates the optimal economic dispatch for all assets in a microgrid over the next 24 hours based on the weather and load forecast. This calculation is done every 15 minutes, and the setpoints are sent to the hybrid controller. The controller in turn manages the microgrid in real-time by constantly monitoring the measurements and sending control signals to the generation assets on a sub-second timeframe. This maximizes the productivity and efficiency of the plant.

Pilot on the Galapagos Islands

In the same way, the ‘Dispatch Optimizer’ can recommend revenue-optimized power generation and storage schedules. How? For example, by participating in arbitrage: storing energy when it’s cheap and selling when it’s expensive. And if – next to supplying one’s own plant – there is an agreement to deliver clean energy to another client, the Dispatch Optimizer helps to avoid PPA penalties by ensuring obligations are met. In short, this module is an important part of the ‘brain’ of the ‘Omnivise Hybrid Control’ management system, as it allows for optimal economic management of hybrid power plants.

A precursor of the ‘Omnivise Hybrid Control’ was already piloted at the Isabela Hybrid Power Plant on the environmentally sensitive Galapagos Islands. This hybrid power plant pilot included multiple energy sources, such as a photovoltaic plant; an array of biofuel generators; and an electrical energy storage system. It started operations in 2019 and continues to smartly manage the requirements of the island’s power demands, which are mainly resilience, availability, and quality of supply. A key function is using weather forecasts and energy demand cycles, so it knows how to manage energy generation and storage. This successful first implementation showed that this smart solution can successfully integrate various components of a hybrid power plant.

Zero Carbon Hybrid Power Plants

Currently, Siemens Energy has several other hybrid power plants under development. Some of them are ‘Low Carbon Hybrid Power Plants’ that include photovoltaic and/or wind, gas turbines for residual power, and battery storage. Others take it to the next level – ‘Zero Carbon Hybrid Power Plants’ highlighting the increasing importance of long-term (hydrogen) storage. Such solutions may include an H2 electrolyzer, H2 fuel-cells, and H2 storage, next to photovoltaic and/or wind. In both cases the plants are monitored and controlled by the ‘Omnivise Hybrid Control’ operating system.

 

So, in short, for the complexity of future power generation, we need intelligent tools that allow us to simplify it again. They allow us to create and manage tailored hybrid solutions for optimized energy production, decarbonization, and economics.

Hans Koopman's picture
Thank Hans for the Post!
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Audra Drazga's picture
Audra Drazga on Sep 1, 2021

Hans,

Thanks for this post and welcome to the community.  I would love to hear more examples from programs like the Galapagos Islands - our utility partners love to hear about case study stories!  Thanks for sharing. 

Hans Koopman's picture
Hans Koopman on Sep 2, 2021

Hi Audra,

thanks a lot, very happy to be part of the community.

Good to hear that there is interest. We are currently working on quite a number of opportunities in this field. We are helping and co-developing such solutions with our customers, which means we are involved from a very early phase of the project and often cannot publish a lot of information at that stage. As soon as we reach a milestone that we can go public, I will be happy to share more. So expect more examples in the (near) future.

Susanne Weissmann's picture
Susanne Weissmann on Sep 2, 2021

Audra,

many thanks for your interest. As you are interested in the Galapagos project I would like to share the press release about the project with you: https://press.siemens.com/gr/en/pressrelease/siemens-provides-sustainabl...

John Benson's picture
John Benson on Sep 7, 2021

Hi Hans, Thanks for the post.

 

As a former Siemens Employee with over two decades of service (retired), I believe that Siemens will have a really tough job selling a natural gas combustion turbine in my home state (California). However, by adding one component, made by a Company that Siemens is very familiar with, you can convert a NGCT to zero (GHG) emissions technology.

 

To see what that component is, and who makes it, go through the link below to an earlier paper that I posted, and then to Section 4.

 

https://energycentral.com/c/cp/tech-race

 

-John

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