INTOGENER - Demonstration Study on Water Flow Monitoring and Prediction Services
Motte, Erwan1; Moreno, Laura1; Repucci, Antonio1; Egido, Alejandro1; Gentile, Nacho1; Caparrini, Marco1; Lutz, Arthur2; Castro, Lina3
1Starlab Barcelona S.L., SPAIN; 2Future Water, NETHERLANDS; 3Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, CHILE
Having an accurate forecast of available water flow is crucial for hydropower companies and water management authorities in order to optimize operations and improve efficiency.
In the frame of the ESA Integrated Applications Promotion (IAP) programme (ARTES element 20), Starlab has starte in 2012 the second phase of the INTOGENER project, aiming at the development and demonstration of a new, operational, water-flow forecast concept, based on the assimilation of near real time measurements of geophysical parameters into a hydrological model.
The system makes use of measurements derived both from Earth Observation satellites (SAR and Optical instruments for the retrieval of snow cover and temperature maps), and from in-situ sensors (for temperature, precipitations, soil moisture, solar radiation, water level). Satellite links are used to transfer information from the field (remote mountainous areas) to the processing centre.
During a first phase of the activity, one basin in the Chilean Andes has already been equipped, and sound predictions have been obtained. In 2012 and 2014, in partnership with Endesa and the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (PUC) and with the support of Hispasat and Future Water, Starlab will demonstrate the real-time operational capabilities of the system, as the last step before potential commercialization of the service.
Target applications and users
INTOGENER Demo is targeting water management applications. The more accurate streamflow predictions are, the better water management and energy efficiency can be attained, with the derived economical benefit.
The user area is renewable energy production with a focus on hydroelectric production companies. Starlab has established along the years a strong partnership with Endesa Chile, which is a key player in the region, being the main producers of hydroelectricity in Chile.
INTOGENER aims at improving the water flow predictions in remote mountainous catchments were most of the hydroelectric production is located. For this purpose the service concept developed by Starlab uses near real-time geophysical information from in situ and remote sensing space based instruments to feed a hydrological model producing water flow forecast.
The in situ measurements identified as relevant for flow prediction are: temperature, precipitation, solar radiation, water level, soil moisture. Reservoir water level is estimated using a novel technology based on the measurements of Global Navigation Satellite System (such a s GPS and Galileo) signals reflected by the lake surface (GNSS-R). If required, in situ information can be sent by satellite communications, in order to provide real-time data to the model.
The space based Earth Observations identified as relevant for flow prediction are temperature maps and snow cover. Snow cover and temperature maps can be measured by optical instruments, with the limitation of cloud cover that occurs regularly during the melting season, and coarse resolution not suitable for hydrological modelling. Whereas temperature can be completed by in situ measurement, extrapolated and downscaled using a digital elevation model, snow cover is more difficult to downscale and extrapolate. For this reason the proposed service includes the acquisition of SAR images which are cloud immune and have a resolution suitable for the hydrological model. Using state of the art algorithms, optical and SAR images can be fused in order to produce high resolution realistic maps of the snow cover.
The hydrological model is initialized with digital elevation model, land use and soil type maps, and calibrated using historical meteorological and flow data. It is then capable of producing short term (days) to long term (seasons) water flow forecasts at points of interest by taking as starting points an updated state of the basin (from updated geophysical information) and a climatology modulated by El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) index as prediction of the meteorological variables.
All the information (from in situ instruments, satellite observations, historical data, and model output) is centralized on a secure server running a database as well as services required for data flow and automation. Routines on this server will produce water flow reports, including quality indicators, as well as system health indicators available by the service team.
The output of the service is a complete forecast of the water-flow based on near real time physical observations delivered automatically to the user on a weekly basis. This forecast is computed at points of interest of the basin, that match input variables in the operational model, and therefore usable directly in their management practices.
Expected Main Benefits
The INTOGENER flow prediction concept is a turnkey solution. The quality of the results is independent from the existence of similar climatological conditions in the historical records. It includes state of the art distributed hydrological modelling fed with near real time space and in situ measurement to reflect the true state of the basin. The system can theoretically be adapted to any new geographical area, no matter the remoteness of the sites to be monitored.
In comparison, the existing solutions for water flow predictions only partially cover the user needs. Although a growing number of hydrological models are appearing, their setup, calibration and use require know-how that hydropower companies are generally focusing on more operational and statistical models. Equally, EO solutions for snow parameters are improving and will continue to do so in the future with new satellites and algorithm development breakthroughs. Nevertheless, EO services rarely include flow forecasting at specific points, and those that do are limited to geographical areas and are conducted under very specific funded projects, being service sustainability still a challenge.
Intogener is currently the only pre operational integrated solution using both space and non space assets in a hydrological model to predict water flow.