#Meet the D-HYDROFLEX team: Eduardo Rodríguez Fernández-Arroyo from EnergyLab

Today, our blog hosts a brief interview with Eduardo Rodríguez Fernández-Arroyo, Urban Ecosystems and Industry Manager at EnergyLab.

Eduardo, welcome. We are happy to host you in the #meet the D-HYDROFLEX team blog series. EnergyLab is among the D-HYDROFLEX partners that are involved in the energy modelling of the power plants with expertise in the development of innovative solutions and the efficient use of energy resources. In this period of energy transition, we are sure that hydrogen will play an important role, and the integration of this energy vector in hydroelectric plants is a promising solution towards efficiency.

Q: Eduardo, would you like to introduce yourself to get to know you?

A: I am a Mechanical Industrial Engineer, Master in Mechatronics Engineering and Master in IA and BigData (in progress).

I have more than 12 years of experience in the field of energy efficiency and technological developments related to digital industry, simulation and advanced modeling, industrial thermal efficiency, positive energy buildings (PEB), energy communities, energy management and improving efficiency in industry 4.0.

Currently I work as a Data Energy Scientist, applying my experience in measurement and verification of energy savings (I am a Performance Measurement and Verification Analyst – PMVA) and my knowledge in artificial intelligence linked to the energy sector.

Q: Could you describe your company’s role on the project?

A: EnergyLab is a technology center specialized in the development of R&D activities in the fields of energy efficiency and sustainability and his role on the project is the energy modelling of the hydrogen plant for Run of River (RoR) Hydropower Plant (HPP) operation based on deep learning algorithms to model and forecast hydrogen production, responsible for the evaluation of environmental parameters for hydrogen production and small hydro environmental impacts. 

Q: The scene in energy market is changing. There is a demand for clean energy. How do you think this change may affect hydropower plants?

A: The integration of renewable energy sources (RESs), e.g., wind, photovoltaic, hydropower, is an effective way to meet the demands of increasing energy consumption, air pollution and climate change. Hydropower generated around 4,300 terawatt hours (TWh) of clean electricity worldwide in 2021, down from the record of 4,370 TWh in 2020, where hydropower generated one-sixth of global electricity, making it the third-largest energy source after coal and natural gas. Hydropower’s contribution is more than half that of nuclear power and greater than that of all the other RES combined. Compared to wind turbines and photovoltaic fields, hydropower plants (HPPs) are the least weather dependent. As a result, hydropower remains the backbone of low-carbon electricity generation, providing almost half of it today. However, the high share of RES in the electricity network leads to challenges in managing the network and volatility in electricity prices due to the intermittent nature of RES. Power-to-gas (P2G) is one of the new technologies that can provide solutions to the above mentioned problems: the conversion of excess, renewable electrical energy into hydrogen makes it possible to store this energy; alternatively, the hydrogen can be used as a fuel for carbon-free transport, as a feedstock for the chemical industry, or as a component for renewable chemicals like methanol, ammonia, and synthetic natural gas. In this way, hydrogen can help stabilize electro-energetic systems that have a large share of RES as well as contributing to the decarbonization of society. Furthermore, the hydrogen produced with electricity from RES has an added value, because its production is CO emission free and, consequently, it can be called “green hydrogen.”

Q: What are the main challenges of your work on the project, and how do you tackle them?

A: At present, green hydrogen technologies are rarely economically viable due to the price of the equipment required for their production. This is the main barrier for green hydrogen technologies to be implemented on a larger scale, and therefore subsidies will be necessary in the short to medium term. These support policies must be accompanied by cost reductions for the technologies to become a realistic alternative for the future. The experts note that green hydrogen is seen by investors, developers, and politicians as a strong enabler to meet net-zero targets and that a market for green hydrogen is opening up, but cost competitiveness remains a barrier to scaling up. 

Therefore, the main objective is to estimate the economic feasibility of green hydrogen production from HPP hydroelectric reserves and energy prices, by: 

  1. Description of the case-study Salto de Touro HPP (Demo 3) and its detailed model, augmented with a P2G system model. The complete model contains both a physical model and an economic model of its operation and serves as a basis for a series of simulation in which the idea of simultaneous hydrogen production will be realistically evaluated using actual data on plant operating conditions (i.e., demanded electricity production) and current market prices for electricity and hydrogen. 
  • Design of a control algorithm for the P2G system that would enable the co-generation of green hydrogen during periods of excess water accumulation or when the prices for electricity are not favorable for the HPP case study, while meeting the prescribed timetable for electricity production. 
  • To assess the economic an environmental viability of electricity and hydrogen co-generation in the case study HPP, which could suffer some inaccuracies due to the uncertain price situation in the world energy market in recent months. 
  • Calibration, remodeling and validation of the models and algorithms developed in previous steps, considering the operation system of the other HPP Demos of the project. 

 Q: What do you expect from the project? How will the project affect the energy ecosystem?

A: Ours expectations from the project are to have a positive impact in terms of decarbonization, environmental protection and hydropower efficiency. The dynamic operation of the P2G system during periods of excess hydropower or periods unfavorable of energy prices, can ensure the production of green hydrogen for local needs and contribute to a more efficient hydropower plant. Depending on the capacity of the selected P2G system, its dynamic operation could also have a positive impact on the riverine ecosystem as the extent of water accumulation denivelation would be reduced.

Eduardo, really thank you for this discussion. It was a pleasure having you with us today!

Another # meet the D-HYDROFLEX team blog story is completed. Stay tuned to learn more on our workforce team!

Learn more on D-HYDROFLEX project here.

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