Inmarsat provides IoT-over-Satellite monitoring for RWE’s hydroelectric power stations in Wales

Renewable energy firm RWE is using IoT-over satellite technology provided by Inmarsat and specialist provider Ground Control at its hydroelectric power facilities in the rugged, mountainous region of Snowdonia national park in northwest Wales.

Snowdonia’s significant rainfall makes it ideal for harnessing water to generate electricity. However, the weather is unpredictable and in remote locations can be completely different to the conditions at RWE’s operations centre in Dolgarrog.

RWE needed valuable, precise, up-to-date information and insight on rainfall and water levels without needing to send staff out to collect measurements. It therefore decided to install automated IoT-connected hydrology stations to constantly monitor water levels and weather conditions, enabling the company to prevent water wastage and maximise the amount of energy it generates while safeguarding staff and the surrounding landscape and infrastructure.

But Snowdonia lacks reliable terrestrial communications links to transmit the data plus connections to the energy grid to power the equipment. To solve this challenge, RWE turned to specialist satellite and IoT technology-as-a-service provider Ground Control and its satellite connectivity partner, Inmarsat. Ground Control worked with specialist partners to design, develop and deploy four energy-efficient, solar-powered, IoT-enabled hydrological stations across RWE’s catchment areas.

Each hydrology station measures and records water levels, precipitation, air and water temperatures and relative humidity. The system is underpinned by Inmarsat’s ELERA network for IoT, which transmits the data gathered by the hydrology stations back to the RWE operations centre.

RWE’s first IoT-enabled hydrology station in Snowdonia was installed in 2016, and three more have come into service since then. The data they gather helps RWE generate power more efficiently by collecting as much water as possible into leats and waterways, which then flows into the lakes and reservoirs. Once there, RWE can use this water in its ongoing power-generating operations.

Having accurate, near real-time information on water levels and flow rates enables RWE to take the right decisions to maximise electricity production, reduce water waste and minimise the threat of damage through overspill to the landscape and its own infrastructure, while also keeping staff safe and secure.

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