what's new

Natel is hiring engineers!  Read more below or visit our website for details. 

Natel has released its 8th update video, highlighting the final steps in commissioning the Monroe Hydro Project, and continued innovation in hydroEngineTM design.

01 Project Focus

Monroe Hydro Project passes
final commissioning tests 

The Monroe Hydro Project completed its final commissioning tests in September, marking the culmination of the pilot operation phase. The project then ramped down for the end of the irrigation season, and will resume commercial operations in the spring of 2016 when the irrigation season resumes and water returns to the canal. This is a major milestone for the project and the team which consisted of local engineering and construction firms, the North Unit Irrigation District, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Energy Trust of Oregon, and Apple. 
Construction starts on
Freedom Falls Project
Kleinshmidt Associates as EPC has begun construction on a hydroEngineTM installation in Freedom Falls, ME. The project has been in the planning and design phase for over two years with Kleinschmidt and Natel cooperating on project timeline and hydroEngine configurations and delivery with the project developer. The project has characteristics similar to many sites in the Northeast, as it is part of the rehabilitation of a historic mill site, adding to the economic growth and enhancing the character of the town. Kleinschmidt's work will rehabilitate a previously abandoned powerhouse and generating site. The project is scheduled for commissioning in the spring of 2016.

02 Product Development

hydroEngineTM autonomous control system complete

Unlike many traditional turbines, the hydroEngine does not cavitate, and can be set well above a plant’s tail water level. To start a plant in this configuration, a special control system sequence is required to ensure any trapped air is purged out of the system. In late September this sequence was fully implemented at the Monroe Hydro Project, completing development of the plant’s fully autonomous control system. 
Initial release of watershedOS for Chile irrigation hydro projects
Natel has developed a knowledge and analytics platform to support the process of developing distributed, sustainable hydropower called watershedOS. The challenge watershedOS addresses is how to efficiently aggregate data on many possible sites, screen those sites against the relevant selection criteria (power output, proximity to roads and transmission lines, environmental and community impacts or co-benefits, etc), and then manage the process of coordinating the various stakeholder approvals to build the selected projects. Working with Wireless Energy, Natel’s development partner in Chile, 120+ sites were captured and screened in the system.  Stay tuned for more information about watershedOS in the future.  

03 Business Development

First international project passes permitting milestone

Natel’s first international project, Buin MCH-1 in Chile, reached an important milestone in October. Due to the low-impact plant design that the hydroEngineTM enables, the project will have a compact over-canal powerhouse with a very limited footprint. This allowed for an exemption from the obligation to pursue an environmental permit for the project, clearing the path for the plant to be constructed and commissioned by the end of 2016. This exemption was issued by the Environmental Impact Evaluation Service of Chile (SEIA) in October. 
The Buin MCH-1 project is being co-developed by Natel and Wireless Energy, Natel’s partner in Chile, and includes partial feasibility funding provided by the United States Trade Development Agency (USTDA). Buin MCH-1 is the first of two pilot projects in Chile whose feasibility is supported by the USTDA. Natel and Wireless will be announcing the second pilot project in 2016.


Natel's Program Lead in Bhutan, Michael Spolum, commenced surveying potential pilot project sites with representatives from Druk Holding & Investments, Natel’s joint venture partner in Bhutan, as well as the Department of Renewable Energy, Bhutan Power Corporation, and Druk Green Power Corporation. In addition, Natel attended the 2015 Gross National Happiness (GNH) Conference in Paro, Bhutan from November 4-6, to further understanding of how EcoSmartHydro can help meet some of Bhutan's GNH goals and make the Kingdom of Bhutan a global leader in distributed, utility-scale hydropower development. 

04 Media and Outreach

Natel Energy mentioned in September issue of Irrigation Leader Magazine

Natel was mentioned in an Irrigation Leader Magazine feature on Columbia Basin (CB) Hydropower. CB Hydropower, which develops, operates, and maintains hydroelectric projects within the Columbia Basin, is in talks with Natel regarding using hydroEngineTM technology in several low head sites.


Natel Energy featured in
City of Alameda Video

Natel Energy was featured in a City of Alameda video promoting the city’s business infrastructure. Gia Schneider was interviewed for the video, and praised Alameda Point’s manufacturing spaces, and community of innovative renewables manufacturers.

Upcoming Conferences and Events

  • Natel will have a booth

Dec 2 SBIR National Conference, Austin Texas
  • Gia Schneider on keynote panel
Dec 2-9 COP 21  Exhibition of Low Carbon Solutions
  • Natel’s hydroEngineTM technology will be on display in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Technology Pavilion in La Galerie.
  • Gia Schneider on a US Department of Energy panel on innovation in renewable energy on Saturday, December 5 in La Galerie. 
Dec 8 NHA Regional Meeting, Sacramento, CA
  • Gia Schneider is on the hydro development in California panel

05 Hiring

Natel is hiring! Check out the open positions on our website, including:

  • Field Engineer / Technician
  • Senior Mechanical Engineer
  • Civil Engineer - Hydropower
  • Mechanical Technician
New Team Member: Ben Ward
At Natel Ben works on the Commercial team in project development and customer support.  After several years of service in the US Navy, Ben graduated from Johnson & Wales University.  He also holds a solar installation NABCEP certification.  Previously Ben focused on the build out and launch of critically acclaimed Bay Area restaurants, emphasizing the use of renewables and sustainable practices.

New Team Member: Sean Hennessee

Sean works at Natel as a mechanical engineer.  He is interested in developing advanced turbines for distributed energy production, learning from his colleagues, and sharing his experience with energy, controls and hardware testing.  He worked with Professor Chris Edwards at Stanford University teaching energy systems while earning B.S. and M.S. degrees in mechanical engineering.  
New Intern: Jin Zhao
At Natel Energy, Jin works as an intern on the civil and environmental aspects of hydropower projects. Jin graduated from UC Berkeley with a M.S. degree in environmental engineering this summer. He holds a B.S. degree in civil engineering from University of Michigan, and a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Shanghai Jiaotong University.

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