Geospatial tech: Wegaw & Enel optimize the clean energy of the future
A sustainable future is built on the innovations of the present. Today, about 70% of the world’s renewable electricity is generated by hydroelectric power plants, leading to 4,252 TWh of electricity generated by hydropower in 2021. These are steps in the right direction, as electrification from renewable sources will be crucial to achieving a Net-Zero future.
But to reach our sustainability goals, doing more of what is currently being done will not be enough. As communities and companies, we must also find new ways of reimagining our current processes. As CEO and Co-founder of Wegaw, Ion Padilla, says: “Innovation means making something new. It means pushing the boundaries further, in order to achieve something positive. It means taking risks, experimenting and reiterating, with a vision of achieving something unique.”
It was this vision of achieving something unique that led to the creation of Wegaw, a startup dedicated to energy efficiency optimization. Their journey has led them from the Swiss Alps to outer space. Now, through their partnership with Enel, they are ready to take their solution to the next level.
Sustainable innovation for a global impact
To maximize hydroelectric power plants’ efficiency, it’s important to effectively manage all the physical parameters like rain and snow precipitation, seasonal snowpack compression and melting, and local geomorphology. For example, in the case of hydroelectric dams, waterflow data can mitigate the risk of overflow or drying up, in particular when it comes to the impact of snow. The more precise the forecast, the less water would be wasted and, therefore, the more energy would be generated.
In order to achieve optimization, you must have accurate data. That’s where Wegaw’s solution comes in. The company’s unique Synthetic Aperture Radar data retrieval through Artificial Intelligence allows them to extract high quality, heterogenous datasets anywhere in the world, without the need for hardware or in-situ datasets.
Thanks to this cutting-edge technology, Wegaw is making clean energy assets more efficient in three ways: by reducing the Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) in new clean energy development projects; by incorporating their datasets into existing clean energy models; and by better understanding the environmental variables in order to adjust trading prices. So far, the tests run in Spain and Switzerland have resulted in an increase of up to 10% in hydropower energy generation and a 5% increase in energy trading and cost optimization.
According to Padilla, “At Wegaw, innovation is part of our DNA, not only in terms of technology, but in the way that we understand today’s business trends and digitalization needs. We believe the world needs companies like ours that are ready to challenge the status quo to achieve a more sustainable future.”
To challenge the status quo, this startup is guided by a global vision to reduce carbon emissions for a greener, more sustainable planet. This vision aligns perfectly with Enel’s objective of driving the energy transition. To build a sustainable future, we need to be efficient; data-driven insights like these will be the fuel that powers a global transformation.
Enel and Wegaw: a shared vision for a more sustainable future
At Enel, we were first introduced to the startup by South Summit and ESA at the South Summit Malaga 2019. Wegaw is currently collaborating with the Enel Global Trading team and the European Space Agency (ESA) to improve their overall data acquisition of snow water equivalent datasets for Enel’s hydropower assets. By monitoring the wetness of the snowpack and the humidity of the soil, Enel can make their hydropower plants more efficient and ensure maximum MWh production, thus reducing their exposure to more polluting energy sources.
Thanks to this collaboration, Wegaw is in the process of building a data acquisition pipeline that works in Italy, with the potential for future implementation in America. As Ion Padilla states, “This is a great way of reducing R&D and product development risk for our startup, while being able to offer our products worldwide, thanks to Enel.” He continues: “Enel has become a critical partner for Wegaw, not only helping us to gain visibility through marketing activities, but also by involving us in conferences that they’re partnering with, such as Enlit Milan 2021, as well as introducing us to the energy ecosystem in general.”
“Our team is very proud to work with Wegaw and ESA on hydroelectric energy transition optimization,” notes Marco Favarato, Head of Enel Innovability® Global Energy and Commodity management. He adds: “We’re looking forward to seeing the results of our collaboration very soon.”
Wegaw has its eye on the future, with the mission of producing geospatial datasets for all clean energy sources. A sustainable, Net-Zero future is not far away and startups like these prove that current innovations are leading this movement.