Fragile with Enel: monitoring the Earth’s surface and innovating the energy sector

Published on Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Traditional InSAR can be used on the catchment scale to spot land movements faster than 40 mm/year

Fragile’s clients include Civil Protection agencies and companies that manage large infrastructure, such as dams and pipelines. This includes, of course, the energy sector. “In areas where geological and geotechnical problems such as landslides and sinkholes are common, InSAR can be a powerful tool in monitoring deformation under the power plant and in the surrounding areas,” says Benedikt. Other examples of infrastructure may include levees, windmills or power lines.

“Innovations are novel techniques or procedures that will be used afterwards for a considerable amount of time”

– Benedikt Bayer, co-founder and CTO of Fragile

Prevention is one of the fronts on which Fragile is most active: “Deformation processes are often noticed only when they result in damage, but most of them persist, for a significant amount of time before causing any visible destruction,” Silvia explains. InSAR may help identify critical areas before significant damage or loss occurs; additionally, it may be used to interpret the kinematics of movement and the possible natural or anthropogenic causes behind it.

Enel Green Power and Fragile, on the same page

Not everyone believes in coincidences, but this was a case of being in the right place at the right time, even if virtually, on the web, through a famous business social media platform. At the time, Enel Green Power was developing a project that involved InSAR processing for various critical infrastructures. “After a technical test that yielded satisfactory results, we took part in a tender to become a supplier,” Benedikt recalls.

The co-founder explains how the contract with Enel Green Power has been instrumental in Fragile’s growth and expansion. “It clearly changed our perspectives in many ways, in terms of both hardware instrumentation capacity and personnel,” he says. He also highlights Enel’s stand-out organisation, which helped them work better. Giuseppe Tomaselli, Innovation project manager at Enel Green Power, underlines the importance of the innovative solution: “Since our structures have been in operation for some time, it is increasingly necessary to employ advanced tools capable of monitoring the state of health while, at the same time, increasing the resilience of the systems and enabling preventive maintenance work in case of anomalies. This guarantees the improvement of the safety in the areas where our hydraulic facilities are located.”

Fragile is currently monitoring its first site abroad, in Chile, and is already looking towards the future and its next goals. “We are considering several ways of developing our processing schemes. We are testing different strategies to automate part of our processing chain, in particular by using machine learning and Artificial Intelligence approaches,” Silvia explains. Furthermore, new generation satellites will be launched in the near future, so it will be possible to acquire even more accurate information from the space. It seems that clear nothing can stop the Earth’s movement – or this startup’s will to grow.

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