Datum 2021-07-01
Artikeltyp News

AI for more efficient production of hydropower

This article was written before our official name change on January 1, 2022 from Mälardalen University (MDH) to Mälardalen University (MDU).

Hydropower produces about 40% of total electricity production in Sweden. Water from snow melt is an important source for hydropower production, and therefore, it is important to accurately measure and estimate the snow volume of snow in order to plan the production of hydropower and also to prevent flooding.

At Mälardalen University (MDH), research is currently underway to improve the production and storage of hydropower using artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet-of-Things (IoT). The research contributes to Sweden's goal of zero emissions and helps society adapt to climate change.

“Today, the knowledge of the snow volumes upstream in the rivers has major shortcomings and it is a challenge to make forecasts for how large the flows from snowmelt will be. If the snow volume is overpredicted, the dams will be emptied too much, resulting in a loss in hydropower production; on the other hand if the snow volume is underpredicted, there will be spillovers from the dams, potentially flooding the areas downstream the reservoir”,” says Pietro Campana, Researcher in Sustainable Energy Systems at MDH”, says Pietro Campana, Researcher in Sustainable Energy Systems at MDH.

Remote sensing can help solve the problem of unknown snow volumes

By using large amounts of data from different satellite platforms together with artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet-of-Things (IoT) technology, it is possible to create new opportunities for hydropower plants to gain a better understanding of the snow amount. This, in turn, allows hydropower plants to reduce the waste of potential hydropower and also reduce the risk of flooding.

"Sebastian Zainali, one of our Master's students in Sustainable Energy Systems, has developed several AI algorithms for various scenarios that can be adopted for helping improve the current satellite-based snow monitoring algorithms," says Pietro Campana.

The research is carried out collaboratively

The project, called SnowSat, is being conducted with the help of funding from Vinnova and in collaboration with Uppsala University and Umeälven's Water Regulation Company.

“Climate change is rapidly changing snow conditions all over the world, and this is particularly evident in higher latitudes and in the world's mountain ranges. By closely monitoring the distribution and amount of snow packs, this provides great value for both water management and improved preparedness for extreme weather events," says Jie Zhang, Project Manager for SnowSat at Uppsala University.

Helping society adapt to climate change

The aim of the research project, which will run until the end of 2023, is increased and more efficient hydropower production and improved preparedness for extreme weather events. The research also contributes to Sweden's goal of zero emissions and helps society develop better strategies to adapt based on ongoing and future changes in climate conditions.

“In the long term, we firmly believe that by gaining better knowledge of snow amount during the winter, we can learn how we can take advantage of the water that is stored in the snow packs in a better way. This is water that can then be stored and used for hydropower production throughout the year,” concludes Pietro Campana.


The research are connected to goal nr 6 and goal nr 11 in UN:s Sustainable Development Goals

Goal 6

Clean water and sanitation.

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Goal 11

Sustainable cities and communities.

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