Connection of solar and wind farms (OT world) with IT processes

Capital Energy is a renewable energy company. With more than 20 years in operation, it aspires to become the first vertically integrated 100% renewable electricity company in the Iberian Peninsula. Their capabilities allow them to be present in the entire value chain of renewable generation: from the promotion and development business, to the construction, generation, storage and commercialization of clean electricity. 

It has a portfolio of wind and solar projects of around 34 gigawatts (GW) of power, technologically and geographically diversified throughout the Iberian Peninsula and islands.

Breaking down information silos, the integration of IT and OT in the energy industry.

The previous paradigm in the energy industry was that the IT & OT worlds were not interconnected, which generated information silos, and that data could not be leveraged for business benefits.

The increasing evolution of Big Data, AI and the Industry 4.0 revolution has generated the need for data from the IT world (data from ERP systems) and OT world (data from plant sensors) to be centralized to meet the needs of new business cases.

In this context, Capital Energy is looking to improve its PV/Wind plant operations by making better data-driven decisions. Among these challenges are:

  • Performing predictive rather than preventive maintenance.
  • Optimize the use of storage batteries in their plants, based on a prediction of energy demand and the condition of the batteries.
Solution on Google Cloud Platform

Capital Energy had the need to connect its solar and wind farms (OT world) with its IT processes, which reside in Google Cloud with a double objective:

  • Receive information on the status of the farm’s assets to make decisions based on that data and develop advanced analytics cases such as predictive maintenance, demand forecasting, etc.
  • Act on the fleet of devices (firmware updates, configuration) and on their behavior, for example sending orders to the batteries to charge or stop charging.

To meet these business challenges Capital Energy presented, it was necessary to deploy an infrastructure in the OT world that was connected to the IT world. In this way, there can be a virtual connection to perform data acquisition from the plants and data ingestion in the cloud.

Keepler built a complex network architecture in Google Cloud, the core element of which was a virtual network (hub & spoke model) that facilitates the isolation of resources from independent VPC networks (spoke) that use different business units, workloads or environments. All this was done to allow the resources of these VPC networks to use shared services (such as firewalls or configuration metadata) and to access them centrally in the cloud from the local network, with each VPC network being able to connect to a central VPC network (hub). 

This isolation enables fine-grained control over network traffic for each group of resources, while helping to meet legal and regulatory requirements for data separation.

In addition, data exchange between OT and IT in pantry mode had to be secure and meet the necessary cybersecurity requirements. Keepler identified and implemented the security mechanisms in the IT network.

Google Cloud Platform services used were as follows:

  • VM Compute Engine: VPC-based architecture
  • Cloud Routers: Redirect traffic between VPCs in the star model
  • Appliance Network: Communications
  • Shared VPC from GCP: Construction of different VPCs
  • Compute Engine from GCP: Interconnect both Hub&Spoke models (IT and OT)
  • VPC Network Peering: Interconnection between each of the IT spokes and its corresponding Hub (IT)
  • Cloud Storage: Data exchange between the IT network and OT privately
  • Private Service Connect from GCP: OT network devices access Cloud Storage privately
  • The solution deployed has enabled Capital Energy to have visibility of the status of its generation plants from the IT processes in the cloud in a centralized manner, eliminating information silos and avoiding decision-making at the edge when it was not necessary.

  • The bi-directional flow of information also makes it possible to act on plant devices remotely, reducing operating costs while reducing their response times.

  • Capital Energy now has a Cloud Data Platform they can scale and ready to be used in other use cases.

Keepler is a full-stack analytics services company specialized in the design, construction, deployment and operation of advanced public cloud analytics custom-made solutions. We bring to the market the Data Product concept, which is a fully automated, public cloud services-based, tailored software that adds advanced analytics, data engineering, massive data processing, and monitoring features. In addition, we help our customers transition to using public cloud services securely and improve data governance to make the organization more data-centric.

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