The definition of control room is fairly generic and common across the industry- a central space where information is conveyed from a variety of sources. It acts as a central data hub, collects information and allows full asset monitoring and reporting, supporting data analysis and makes the decision process smoother and more insightful.

The main purpose of a control room is production control, that is, enabling expert teams to keep an eye on all connected power plants even if they are physically dispersed across the country or worldwide.

In the energy sector, there are two slightly different versions: you can have a monitoring room or a monitoring and control room. Where’s the difference?

It is in the functions that each room enables to perform. A “simple” monitoring room essentially reports the state of devices that can be monitored and focuses on alarms, trends, detection of failures and reports. The HMI software system complies with these functions across multiple power plant technologies (wind, solar, hydro, etc.) and connects devices from different manufacturers. Essentially, it works really well whenever surveillance at-large is all you need, but this is not enough when it comes to power regulation.

On the other hand, a control and monitoring room is one step ahead. It is a common space where, in addition to checking operational data coming from configured power plants, operators can also act on devices: they can start, stop and reset generation units like wind turbines and inverters both manually and automatically. The software has an augmented set of functions that allow the operator not just to monitor but also to intervene remotely.

This exact feature is proving essential during the emergency we are facing globally which has forced on site teams and work flows to be completely reorganized so to adhere to the new safety measures. So, being able to access real-time data from any device, at any time and in any place has never been so important as it is today for energy management.

In this way, the monitoring and control rooms which allow energy utilities to balance flows between grids demands and the availability of source supply can be managed remotely thus benefitting customers, the electric grid itself and workers, too.

BaxEnergy’s control rooms all over the world utilize Energy Studio Pro® to synchronize all data automatically and make them available in real time and accessible via web browser, tablet or smartphone, so that production units can be managed remotely 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. ESP® intelligent platform is Cloud and mobile ready: being highly customizable for the end user, it allows for ad hoc KPIs, alarms and reports, and to be interoperable with external systems (BI, AI, ERP) and feeds such as weather, maps and protocols.

Not only data are easily accessible, some Multi-GW utilities can constantly watch over their photovoltaic plants thanks to a tailor-made 3D viewer which is available through mobile applications.

  3D view of photovoltaic power plant
3D view of photovoltaic power plant

Cyber security is a keyword, too. In fact, ESP grants 24×7 ICT infrastructure monitoring and cyber defense services. Also, remote access to main servers is made through secure, fast and encrypted connectivity.

Enel Green Power’s control room in Chile which implements BaxEnergy’s turn-key solution Energy Studio Pro® has been defined as “a positive example” of remote controlling, being “the only one able to monitor all four technologies at once, thanks to the most cutting-edge automation technologies and communication and data visualization systems. Since its inauguration, the room has been able to guarantee and support the production of renewable energy throughout the country at every moment, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”

Enel Green Power Chile Control Room
Image courtesy of EGP Chile