Innovative Emerson Technology Helps CVA Improve Management of Hydroelectric Plants

by | Mar 30, 2021 | Control & Safety Systems, Machine Automation, Power Generation, Reliability, Remote Automation | 0 comments

Emerson control technology offers significant benefits to renewable energy manufacturers. At Emerson Users Exchange Live 2021 Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), Manuel Bonjean, manager of operations/electromechanical engineering at CVA, an Italian renewable energy company, presented a case study session on anticipating the future of energy through innovation that described how Emerson technology saved CVA more than 2 million euros in external costs:

In 2010, a group of young technical experts and engineers from Valle d’Aosta, in Italy founded the Innovation Research & Development Team at the engineering department of CVA. CVA decided to invest in the development of an internal educational network to enhance local resources and skills by creating new solutions, specifically for the Hydroelectric sector. The young team created a new standard in technology to automate and manage hydroelectric groups and aims to extend the solutions to other hydroelectric providers across Europe. The entire project was designed on Emerson control systems, chosen by CVA as a preferred partner for the reliability and performances already tested with previous solutions.

The Compagnia Valdostana delle Acque (CVA) Group, based in the Valle d’Aosta region, operates 30 hydroelectric power plants, generating 907 MW and 2.8 billion kWh annually. Bonjean shared how CVA wanted to improve the management of its plants to increase uptime and the availability of services to its customers. Existing processes at the plants were inefficient and lacked a unified approach to optimize production. The automation technology was fragmented, with little homogeneity or standardization across the different plants. To compound the issue, there was a lack of system integrator expertise in the region to oversee the improvement project.

Photo of the Goillet Dam in Val D'Aosta Italy from CVA Group

Lake Goillet Dam – CVA Group

To solve these challenges, CVA worked closely with Emerson to develop automation standards for the management of the plants. As a result of this collaboration, three new automatic systems were developed to provide fully automated control of the plants. The Speed Governor (RDF12©), Voltage Governor (RDT14©) and Group Automation System (AUT16©) all have Emerson’s reliable, high performance modular RX3i control platform at their core.

The Speed Governor regulates the frequency or speed of the turbine-alternator complex by controlling the opening level of the water intake valves in the turbine, controlling the turbine speed and the synchronization between the power requirement from the electricity grid and the generated power. Emerson’s RX3i controller, High Speed Counter module and QP+ HMI were chosen for their flexibility, ease of use and high processor performance to quickly process complex internal calculation algorithms. This system has already been extended to 21 of CVA’s hydroelectric groups.

Photo of the inside of the Hydroelectric Plant in Chavonne of CVA Group

Hydroelectric Plant in Chavonne – CVA Group

Emerson’s RX3i controller also operates the new Voltage Governor, currently installed on 11 systems. The Voltage Governor modulates the input current to the generator rotor by varying the degree of phase displacement of the static excitation system, manages voltage increases and synchronizes the voltage produced by the generator as a function of the main voltage. The regulator is separated into two distinct systems, creating the possibility to control the main ring (power/voltage) and secondary ring (excitation current) independently. This has increased plant safety and provided protection from direct and reverse over-voltage. The Voltage Governor is currently installed on 15 systems and will be extended to other systems in future.

The Group Automation System, installed at five hydroelectric groups so far, is the central brain that manages the power generation of the entire group. The system uses Emerson’s RX3i controller to process control signals from the field and produce commands that guarantee the implementation of all the unified automatic sequences. A unique user interface was also designed to maximize operator performance and minimize issues. This system has been installed on seven hydroelectric groups and will be extended to all of CVA’s plants in the near future.

Thanks to the partnership between Emerson and CVA, more than 2 million euros has already been saved by CVA in external costs. Frequency and voltage regulation levels are more precise and reliable, the quality of electricity grid management has improved, energy losses and contingent downtime have been avoided, health and safety has been improved, and the impact on the environment has been reduced.

Visit the industrial control and automation solutions section on for more information on these technologies.

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