Natel Energy has closed an $11 million investment, led by Schneider Electric Ventures and supported by Breakthrough Energy Ventures, to accelerate deployment of the company’s Restoration Hydro Turbine (RHT).
The RHT is a fish-safe unit that enables upgrades to existing low-head hydropower plants while also improving power output and river connectivity, Natel say. The RHT provides a compact footprint that reduces installed cost by over 20% compared to conventional low-head options.
The investment comes on the heels of the deployment of a 35-kW RHT at the Freedom Falls project in Maine. The electricity produced powers a restaurant and school, with excess output net metered to the grid.
“We look for innovative companies that enable the world to transition to decarbonized, decentralized and digital energy, and Natel Energy- by providing low impact, reliable renewable energy to communities- fits perfectly in our portfolio,” said Heriberto Diarte, head of SE Ventures.
Natel’s says its Restoration Hydro approach aims to build cost-effective hydropower projects that can help restore watersheds — generating renewable energy as well as multiple environmental co-benefits. HydroForecast™ and Lens™ — software solutions offered by Natel subsidiary Upstream Tech — deliver decision-support for all watershed stakeholders, including hydropower utilities, to design, build, upgrade, restore and optimize green and grey watershed infrastructure for climate resilience.
“Hydro has long been considered a perfect source for renewable energy, if not for the high cost of capital and inherent risks to wildlife based on most designs,” said Carmichael Roberts of Breakthrough Energy Ventures. “Natel’s patented high-performance hydro-electric turbine cleverly addresses both issues — lowering the expense per unit and making it safe for the environment. Furthermore, the product can be deployed as a retrofit in existing installations or rolled out in brand new developments. This means Natel has the potential to fundamentally change how water is leveraged as a renewable energy source that blends well with other important products like wind and solar.”
Natel is a California-based company with a mission to mitigate climate change and build climate resilience by providing the hardware and software that enables a 100% renewable grid via a hydropower backbone.