Despite being the largest source of renewable electricity globally, the hydropower industry often takes a backseat to flashier sectors like solar and wind. However, one Austrian startup seeks to bring hydropower back to the forefront through new digital solutions aimed at maximizing efficiency and profitability of plants.
Tapping into Underused Potential
According to Janice Goodenough, CEO of Vienna-based Hydrogrid, the vast potential of hydropower remains largely untapped. She highlights that while hydropower meets over 60% of renewable energy demand worldwide, the complexity of regulations combined with a lack of innovation has hindered further optimization.
To address this, Hydrogrid has pioneered an advanced analytics platform for hydroelectric facilities, including an algorithm that examines live plant data to determine the most lucrative times to dispatch electricity. This enables operators to swiftly adapt to changing weather and market dynamics to enhance production volumes while reducing waste. Initial results showcase generation improvements of up to 10% and revenue gains surpassing 50% in some instances.
Cultivating Strategic Partnerships
A key pillar of Hydrogrid’s expansion involves collaborations with major players in hydropower-reliant regions. One major partnership saw Hydrogrid digitize all eight hydropower plants owned by Swiss utility firm EWN, a substantial endeavor considering Switzerland generates over 60% of its electricity from hydropower.
Seeking to champion smaller-scale hydro initiatives, Hydrogrid has also united with Norwegian firm Småkraft to introduce efficiency-boosting technologies across 16 hydro facilities in Norway and Sweden. This supports the additional income received by local farmers who own river-based plants.
Gearing Up for Global Growth
Having recently secured $8.5 million in Series A financing, Hydrogrid now looks primed to scale up internationally. This injection arrives mainly from European climate tech investor Inven Capital, backed by major institutions like the EIB and CEZ Group. As Inven’s Michal Mravec suggests, Hydrogrid’s strengths in predictive water inflow models, navigating regulations, and power trading optimization were pivotal investment rationale.
The funding empowers Hydrogrid’s goal of entering at least seven new national markets within the next three years. With the proper capital and network of partners, Hydrogrid seems well-positioned to carry out its vision of reviving hydropower through targeted digitization.
Rather than an afterthought, the future looks bright for hydropower’s place among an integrated network of renewable options. With continued innovation from frontrunners like Hydrogrid, the forgotten giant may soon reclaim the throne as the driving force enabling the global energy transition.