How Hydrogrid is digitising the ‘forgotten giant’ of renewables

Hydropower currently generates more energy than all other renewables combined and is expected to remain the world’s largest source of renewable electricity into the 2030s. And pumping water uphill, aka pumped storage hydro, accounts for 90% of energy storage capacity. 

However, in Europe, investment and general interest in hydropower pales in comparison to wind and solar. This is partly because most suitable locations for power-generating dams have already been utilised, and building new dams is increasingly controversial due to their high environmental impact. For these reasons, hydropower is often referred to as the “forgotten giant” of renewable energy. 

Yet, there is still untapped potential in unlocking efficiencies from dams that are already producing power. Or working with new, smaller-scale hydro projects that don’t have such a negative impact. Hydrogrid, a startup out of Austria, is doing both. 

“Despite the important role hydropower has to play as a green battery to the grid, hydro is often viewed as the forgotten giant of the energy transition,” says CEO Janice Goodenough. “This is because a significant part of its potential is currently underutilised due to a lack of digitalisation or due to complex regulation. And that’s what we aim to change.”

The young company has developed an IoT-enabled platform that helps hydroelectricity plants run more efficiently, and save cash in the process. The key component of its technology stack is an algorithm fed with live data from the plant that informs managers of the best time to sell electricity to the grid. The platform also enables hydropower operators to quickly react to weather events and minimise water losses. Hydrogrid claims it can boost a plant’s power generation by 10% and revenues by up to 50%.  

Fresh round of funds for market expansion