Supported by the Pilot and Demonstration programme of the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE), a new collaboration between climate tech start-up Wegaw and hydrology experts as well as the WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF and nine hydroelectricity companies, is set to improve water supply forecasting in dams across Switzerland’s alpine regions.
The “Defrost for Hydropower” project combines SLF’s snow expertise with satellite imagery from Wegaw’s cutting-edge geospatial technology and Hydrique Engineers advanced modelling skills, in order to more accurately predict water flow into hydro dams up to 4 months in advance as well as hydrological inflows on a regional scale.
These improved forecast insights would support numerous key areas that are important to industry stakeholders, such as hydroelectricity asset efficiency, trading decision making, due diligence and national sustainability efforts.
Wegaw and Hydrique Ingénieurs HJ Sàrl presented the concept to energy industry decision makers, and have welcomed 9 electricity companies as well as one governmental innovation body to form a new consortium, including:
The project started in September 2021 and first datasets were presented at the Steering Committee meeting held in December 2021.
The Wegaw team is successfully converting RADAR satellite information to snow water equivalent (SWE) insights and integrating the data into a seasonal hydrological inflow forecast.
Earlier on this year, the methodology was successfully tested in two hydrological basins in Valais and the project is now moving towards the hydrological modelling phase after which Wegaw will work on the Economic Impact Assessment stage.
This will involve comparing the simulated inflow data with the collected information from the participating hydropower producers in order to identify economic improvement opportunities in production and trading.
“Due to the accuracy of our forecasts and the quality of the available data, our team is on track to complete technical and economic evaluations for the consortium. These new insights could lead to enhancements in electricity trading for the hydropower companies on a seasonal basis, resulting in more competitive energy pricing and potentially a better environmental impact.”
In order to achieve such promising results, and with so many different members involved, it has been key for the consortium to adhere to a set of user needs that consider individual system requirements whilst creating the technological baseline to solve each users’ pain points (e.g. specific formatting and delivery expectations for existing legacy and modelling systems).
Furthermore, the quality of the data is being constantly monitored and validated, and all consortium members are being kept up-to-date on the results with performance indicators in place (such as SWE accuracy, inflow expectations, output management, and seasonal forecasting), that may identify any uncertainties and allow for corrections to modelling or data methodology to be made.
The initial observations and preliminary results have revealed some excellent opportunities for operational and commercial optimisation, whilst enabling the participants to effectively collaborate towards the government’s long-term climate strategy for net zero greenhouse emissions by 2050.
Switzerland is already well established as a key contender in Europe’s innovation race and the fast-growing team at Wegaw is excited to be part of the Swiss tech start-up market, which raised a record $3.1B (CHF 2.9B) in 2021.
Wegaw’s solution empowers hydropower companies with invaluable insights that would lead to greater sustainability opportunities.
Wegaw is on a mission to empower a carbon-neutral future by enabling the optimization of renewable energy production through remote sensing and machine learning technologies.
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