The European Space Agency (ESA) is inviting organisations to propose a plan for a feasibility study of space-based applications for the hydro energy sector.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is one of the great challenges of the coming years. Sustainable development requires more and better use of renewable energies such as hydroelectric, wind and solar energy, which has become increasingly important in the energy market. Hydroelectricity uses water from rivers or stored in dams to produce electricity through the rotation of turbine blades. Hydroelectric power is significantly affected by the natural variability of available water inside rivers. To manage hydroelectric plants and plan the production or storage of water and evaluate their impacts on the power market, it is necessary to know not only the rain, but also the water contained within the snowpack (snow water equivalent). In situ measurements combined with satellite and meteorological models could improve the estimation of the snow cover and of snow water equivalent, reducing exposure to their natural variability.
To address these challenges and promising business prospects, ESA has issued the present Announcement of Opportunity (AO) for feasibility studies, in cooperation with Enel Global Trading S.p.A. (also referred to as EGT). The AO aims at investigating the technical feasibility and economic viability of space-based applications to support nowcasting and forecasting of hydroelectric power generation, and must include the development of a mock-up/prototype (Proof of Concept) demonstrating the technical feasibility.
Enel Global Trading S.p.A. has a large cluster of hydrological power plants mainly located over Alpine and Apennine areas. The knowledge of snowpack and ice thickness is therefore a crucial aspect in EGT business.
All details and use cases for this announcement of opportunity can be found here on the dedicated ESA website. Closing date for this tender is 20 September 2021.