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Mitigating the Environmental Impact of Large Photovoltaic Plants
Published on Friday, March 29 2019
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Challenge Expiration Date: July 15, 2019
Enel Green Power (EGP) is the leader in the renewable energy sector and operates in Europe, Americas, Asia, Oceania and Africa. Thanks to innovative energy technologies, EGP produces power from solar and other renewable energy sources. EGP is committed to contributing to sustainable development and in this context, EGP is interested in finding innovative ideas for mitigating the environmental impact of large photovoltaic (PV) plants while maximizing the benefits for local communities.
This is an Ideation Challenge with a guaranteed award for at least one submitted solution.
-- Deadline extended to July 15, 2019. Please, read carefully the frequent asked questions attached (Q.A. Challenge) --
Solar power is a renewable, alternative energy source that can be harnessed every day in all weather conditions; the number of operational PV power plants has grown rapidly worldwide. While the amount of power generated can exceed a gigawatt, PV plants require large tracts of land for panel installation resulting in ecological changes and other environmental issues such as desertification due to the presence of solar panels, concurrent use with respect to agriculture, reduction of flora and fauna, water contamination, water use for panel cleaning, etc.
Enel Green Power intends to find and promote innovative actions that either mitigate the environmental impact of large PV plants or, preferably, generate a more positive outcome, with a strong emphasis upon LAND USE (so, for example, solutions regarding the disposal and recycling of PV modules and other plant components are excluded).
In this context it could be possible to introduce, in a complementary approach, actions to maximize the social benefit for local communities.
The focus of the activity must be the concurrent use of the land and how we can generate a positive impact associated with a LARGE PV PLANT (e.g. avoiding desertification due to the presence of solar panels, reduction on flora and fauna, water contamination of deep wells, etc.)
This Challenge provides contribution to the following Sustainable Development Goals:
- SDG 7: Affordable and clean energy
- SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth
- SDG 15: Life on land
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The construction of large photovoltaic (PV) plants is continuously growing worldwide. The main advantage of solar power, from an environmental point of view, is mainly related to the reduction of greenhouse gases, however, some concerns have been raised with regard to land use, water consumption, and microclimate modification. Some efforts have already been made by Enel Green Power (EGP) in this sector and single pilot initiatives are being developed in various countries with regard to revegetation, restoration of land and soil reuse, fauna rescue, etc. Each site that is selected for a PV plant has unique characteristics with respect to the environment, geography, local culture, and socioeconomics, therefore, a one-size-fits-all solution is unlikely to exist.
The achievement of the aforementioned project requires a multidisciplinary effort, regarding both the plant infrastructures and territory, as well as the overall construction of the plants. Enel Green Power is searching for ideas that either mitigate the environmental impact of large PV plants or preferably generate a more positive outcome. Preferably solutions should also stimiluate local inclusion in order to maximize the social benefit for local communities.
The identified interventions should be applied either to new PV plants or as a retrofit solution and could be innovative, new, site-specific, or modified application of old/standard practices.
Take in consideration that EGP, in this case, is searching for environmental solutions that impact on agricultural use of land (inside the PV plant) and, as a plus, its connected effect on local community development and inclusion.
The project is mainly focused on the impact on land use.
In detail, the practices will concern the mitigation of the impacts on one or more of the following categories:
- Agricultural land Use (high priority)
- Overconsumption of water in desert or water stressed environment
In the framework of the CSV (creating shared value) model, EGP is searching for solutions that will create benefits for the environment, Enel Green Power and local communities.
So it will be necessary to demonstrate that the solutions/practices proposed will be able to create effective value for:
- the environment
- the company (i.e. increase the operational efficiency of the PV plant reducing temperature below the panel and increasing the albedo, etc.)
- the community (i.e. possibility to use the land for tea, medicinal plant, plant to be use as fodder, etc. for commercial use, etc.) if present
In addition, it is highly desired that the solutions:
- combine the reduction of environmental impacts with maximization of social and economic benefits for local communities
- are framed in a circular economy perspective
NOTE: Issues regarding the disposal and recycling of PV modules and other plant components are out of scope and thus excluded.
The submitted proposal should be a maximum of 20 pages and include the following:
- Detailed description and explanation of the proposed solution, including technical documentation
- Information required in “THE CHALLENGE” chapter
- A bibliography of relevant literature (e.g. journal articles, patents, trade materials) that supports the proposed solution
- An assessment of initial installation and continued maintenance costs
- If available, evidence of the impact in terms of a circular economy
The proposal should not include any personal identifying information (name, username, company, address, phone, email, personal website, resume, etc.) or any information the Solvers may consider as their Intellectual Property they do not want to share.
The employees of Enel Green Power who are involved in the organization and management of the Competition or admitted to the Open Innovability Portal back office, as well as their spouses or partners and their relatives up to the fourth degree, are not eligible for participation in this Challenge.
Also, employees of the companies of the Enel Group who have worked in the technical sector of the Solar field and that work, in the moment of the competition, on the PV environmental impact activities, or their spouses, partners or any of their relatives up to the fourth grade determined according to Italian law.
This is an Ideation Challenge, which has the following unique features:
- There is a guaranteed award. The awards will be paid to the best submission(s) as solely determined by the Seeker. The total payout will be $10,000, with at least one award being no smaller than $5,000 and no award being smaller than $1,000.
- The Solvers are not required to transfer exclusive intellectual property rights to the Seeker. Rather, by submitting a proposal, the Solver grants to the Seeker a royalty-free, perpetual, and non-exclusive license to use any information included in this proposal, including for promotional purposes.
Submissions to this Challenge must be received by 11:59 PM (Central European Time) on July 15, 2019.
Late submissions will not be considered.
Specific regulation in the CSA attached
What happens next?
After the Challenge deadline, the Seeker will complete the review process and make a decision with regards to the Winning Solution(s). All Solvers that submit a proposal will be notified on the status of their submissions; however, no detailed evaluation of individual submissions will be provided. ABOUT INNOCENTIVE InnoCentive collaborates with Enel to manage this challenge. InnoCentive is the global innovation marketplace where creative minds solve some of the world's most important problems for cash awards up to $1 million. Commercial, governmental and humanitarian organizations engage with InnoCentive to solve problems that can impact humankind in areas ranging from the environment to medical advancements.
After the Challenge deadline, the Seeker will complete the review process and make a decision with regards to the Winning Solution(s). All Solvers that submit a proposal will be notified on the status of their submissions; however, no detailed evaluation of individual submissions will be provided.
InnoCentive collaborates with Enel to manage this challenge.
InnoCentive is the global innovation marketplace where creative minds solve some of the world's most important problems for cash awards up to $1 million. Commercial, governmental and humanitarian organizations engage with InnoCentive to solve problems that can impact humankind in areas ranging from the environment to medical advancements.