Itaipu updates control and supervision systems for energy production
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Itaipu Binacional has just finished updating its main energy generation and transmission control system, the so-called Scada/EMS (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition/Energy Management Systems). This modernization, which began in 2018, prepares the hydroelectric plant for the Plant's Technological Update project, which is in the contracting phase and should extend for at least the next 10 years.

Disparching Room at Itaipu's power house. Credit: Alexandre Marchetti/Itaipu.
Disparching Room at Itaipu's power house. Credit: Alexandre Marchetti/Itaipu.

The first version of Scada/EMS was installed in 2000, and a system upgrade (called NMR3) was performed between 2008 and 2010. As the end of the useful life of this second version approached, it was necessary to perform a new software upgrade, as well as renew the hardware (servers, network and cybersecurity devices, and consoles). The new system (NMR5) will be in operation until the complete renewal of the plant's supervision and control structure foreseen in the Technological Update, which will allow a safe and reliable transition, ensuring the plant's operation throughout the period.

According to engineer Marcos Mendes, from the Engineering Superintendence (ENES.DT), who participated in the installation of the first Scada/EMS at Itaipu, worked on the upgrade in 2008, and now coordinates the current modernization work, "the Scada/EMS upgrade project is important, complex, and multidisciplinary, involving all the Technical Board's Superintendencies and the Financial Board's Purchasing and Materials Superintendencies".

It is in updating the Scada and EMS software layers that Itaipu's teams (especially the Systems Support Group - GSS, from the Operation Superintendence) played a key role, since several applications were developed partially or entirely within the company. Among the customizations made are the automatic voltage and generation controllers, the short-term hydro-energetic programming/execution applications, and the applications responsible for data transfer between the Scada/EMS system and the corporate network environment.

According to engineer Paulo Neis, from GSS, the possibility to customize and develop new EMS applications "ensures full compliance with the requirements of Itaipu's specific processes, contributing to improve the reliability and efficiency required for the Operation".


For the Scada/EMS technology upgrade, a contract was signed with ABB Inc, based in Houston (Texas, USA), in late 2017. The project began in early 2018, and in that same year, all the panels with the equipment were assembled in the factory and the software developments and migrations began. Factory acceptance tests were completed in early 2019 and the equipment was shipped to Itaipu, where it was installed between May and November of that year, under the supervision of the Superintendence of Works (SO.DT). Them, the systems' field integration was initiated.

In March 2020, under the coordination of the Maintenance Superintendence, the commissioning phase began, which included several activities, from verifying the installation of all panels and equipment, integration tests with all existing interfaces, and even more complex tests linked to automatic generation and voltage controls.

In January and February 2021, the so-called cut-over took place, which is the shut-down of the previous system (NMR3) for the start-up of the new one (NMR5), which has been operating since February 14th.

According to the Engineering Superintendent, engineer Vicente Ortellado, the updated Scada/EMS system brings as main benefits, besides the useful life's extension, the attention to new system requirements due to the new technology and the opportunity for all superintendencies involved to develop a teamwork methodology, aiming at the plant's Technological Update.

The system

Scada systems are widely used in industries to supervise and control production processes. At Itaipu, it supervises and controls the entire generation and transmission process, in operations such as starting and stopping generating units, increasing or reducing generation, commands to the 500kV GIS substation circuit breakers to energize the transmission lines, as well as maneuvering the spillway gates.

On the other hand, the EMS (Energy Management System) can be understood as a software layer on top of Scada, with functions related to the plant's operation that include short-term hydro-energetic scheduling, automatic generation control, and joint voltage and reactive power control.

Scada and EMS help improve the quality of the energy generated by Itaipu, increase the reliability of energy supply (greater process supervision, with alarms and detailed events), and optimize water consumption. In addition, they feed historical databases and indicators that help in the planning and continuous improvement of the Operation and Maintenance processes.