Natel Energy announced a $20 million funding round, led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) and supported by Chevron Technology Ventures, to build momentum in deploying its flagship product, the Restoration Hydro Turbine (RHT).
“As more solar and wind power solutions are deployed, the role of hydropower will become increasingly important due to its inherent reliability, flexibility, and ability to integrate other renewables onto the grid,” said Carmichael Roberts, BEV. “Natel’s Restoration Hydro Turbine is the most cost-effective and environmentally safe solution for fully unlocking the power of additional sustainable hydropower generation. Additionally, the company’s digital solutions help the existing hydro fleet optimize production, creating a powerful combination of technology to enable a truly 100% renewable grid.”
Two project deployments of this technology have accumulated two years of commercial operation. One example, the Monroe Hydro Project in Madras, Ore., makes use of an existing irrigation canal and the 1-MW class D190 RHT.
“Natel Energy is on pace to grow the footprint of modern, distributed, fish safe hydropower as a climate-resilient solution supporting the transition to a reliable, zero carbon grid,” said Gia Schneider, chief executive officer and co-founder of Natel. “The future of renewable energy, and specifically hydropower, hinges on the ability to consider environmental impacts of deployment alongside the urgent need to shift our grid for a more sustainable future, and Natel’s solutions do just that.”
Natel’s RHT is a compact propeller-style turbine with specially designed blades that allow fish to pass safely. The RHT has a compact footprint that reduces total installed cost and enables plant designs that maintain or improve river connectivity. The RHT is suitable for upgrading or repowering existing small hydro plants; for adding new generation to existing non-power dams; and for new hydro development through Natel’s Restoration Hydro design approach.
Natel combines its hardware and software solutions into a design philosophy called Restoration Hydro to build cost-effective hydropower projects that help to restore watersheds, providing environmental co-benefits – including habitat creation, improved water quality, and sustained increases in groundwater and aquifer recharge rates — while supplying reliable renewable energy. Natel’s Upstream Tech HydroForecast solution enables more accurate forecasts of water flow, helping optimize power production from both RHT and conventional hydro projects, while the Lens solution delivers cost-effective, easily scalable monitoring of landscape change across large project areas to deliver effective natural resource management.
“We are excited about Natel’s potential to unlock distributed hydro resources, further advancing the integration of lower-carbon power into the grid,” said Barbara Burger, vice president, Innovation and President of Technology Ventures at Chevron. “This is the latest investment from our recently launched $300 million Future Energy Fund II, which invests in lower carbon technologies with the potential to enable more affordable, reliable, and ever-cleaner energy.”
With the additional support from this funding round, Natel Energy plans to scale deployments of the RHT, HydroForecast and Lens through direct sales as well as through developing a targeted portfolio of Restoration Hydro projects in the U.S. and Europe.
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