Learn about Natel Energy's latest news in the 5th issue of the 2016 newsletter.


Issue #5:  September - October 2016

Natel is hiring!  View the careers page for a full list of job postings.                               


Full-Length Belt Tester Commissioned

Natel designed, built, and commissioned a full-length belt tester to test belt configurations before installing them in the field.  This tester enables the team to replicate field conditions by running belts under varying tensile loads, power, rotational speeds, and alignments. 

Environmental Testing Updates

As part of Natel’s continuing work to better simulate field conditions in component-level fatigue testing, we  implemented some new testing rigs for our proprietary belt attachments.  The testers subject belt attachments to the loads and deflections experienced during field operations while operating submerged in grit-filled water.  

Freedom Falls hydroEngine®: Ready for first full season of operation

The Free Jet hydroEngine at Freedom Falls is ready to run for its first full season of operations.  Operations are expected to commence by the end of the year, pending water availability.  During the dry season this summer, Natel designed and installed an improved jet deflector and clutch. These systems protect the machine from water hammer and shield the generator from overspeed in the event of a grid rejection, thus reducing both penstock and generator costs, and protects the hydroEngine in the event of an internal mechanical trip. 

Monroe Hydro 

Natel conducted performance testing at Monroe to validate analytical Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) results and small-scale hydraulic model tests against field data. 

Monroe Hydro has entered its dry season after the canal was dewatered in early October, and the Natel team has now commenced off-season work including powertrain and trash screen updates. 

Water and Energy Hybridization Projects

Natel is working on a set of projects that includes a networked approach to compact hydropower plants across an irrigation canal network, managed as a single plant and hybridized with solar, wind, and/or batteries, to deliver a better overall energy product to customers and to the grid overall.

Natel is also defining and assessing a portfolio of projects to pair distributed hydropower systems in canals with groundwater recharge efforts.  This work builds upon existing efforts by several California irrigation districts to use existing irrigation canals as a mechanism to pass winter runoff and deliver water to groundwater recharge zones in the winter off-season when there is a surplus of storm runoff. 

A Natural Infrastructure Approach: EcoSmartHydro®

Natel is refining a framework for delivering positive water, ecosystem, and energy outcomes in a cohesive, collaborative manner, using nature-based, ecologically engineered solutions that improve community, watershed, natural infrastructure and wildlife resilience. This approach is grounded in the explicit design of projects to bolster the ability of watersheds to capture, store, and release water in a decentralized approach; to drive groundwater recharge; to reduce stream temperatures; to improve water quality; to mitigate floods; to maintain up and downstream connectivity for fish and wildlife; and to increase both in-stream (for fish) and near-stream (for birds and other wildlife) habitat. We welcome collaboration with others interested in this approach - if you would like to engage with us, please email ecosmarthydro@natelenergy.com.

Bhutan Progress

On October 9, representatives from Natel Energy and Druk Holding and Investments (DHI), Bhutan's sovereign holding company, met with Ambassador William E. Todd, the U.S. State Department's Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs, to brief him on their accelerating programmatic efforts in Bhutan. The briefing included a tour of two prospective, small-scale (<1MW) pilot project sites near Bhutan's capital of Thimphu, one of which Natel and DHI plan to jointly develop as the first step in the planned development of a 50 MW portfolio of commercial projects. 

Pennwell Renewable Energy World’s Project of the Year Honorable Mention: Freedom Falls

The Freedom Falls project in Maine was selected as one of PennWell Corporation and Renewable Energy World’s 2016 renewable energy project of the year honorable mentions. The article highlights the positive effects of the project on the local community and the revitalization of the 40-year-old mill.

Harper’s Magazines’ Jacques Leslie on Natel’s distributed, EcoSmartHydro® approach

In the November 2016 Harper’s Magazine issue, Jacques Leslie, acclaimed environmental journalist, writes about the merits of a distributed and sustainable approach to hydropower development utilizing Natel’s hydroEngine. The article highlights the modular, centralized, and scalable solution that a low-head and distributed approach provides for hydropower development worldwide.

Natel CEO speaks at BERC Resources Roundtable

On November 2nd, Gia Schneider presented as one speaker on an esteemed panel of energy experts at the 2016 Berkeley Energy and Resources Collaborative (BERC) Resources Roundtable. The topic of this year’s roundtable is the Water-Energy Nexus and finding solutions and new technologies to solve the growing water crisis of the 21st Century alongside energy solutions.

Natel’s VP of International Business Development named to the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Advisory Committee 

Adam Atkinson-Lewis, Natel’s Vice President of International Business Development, was one of 34 members appointed to the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Advisory Committee (REEEAC) by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce. Established in 2010, the REEEAC is comprised of senior-level private-sector representatives that advise the Secretary of Commerce on the development and administration of programs and policies to expand the export competitiveness of U.S. renewable energy and energy efficiency products and services.

Call to Action on Investment Tax Credit 

Currently, the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for hydropower development, which can represent a 30% savings value to overall project costs, is set to expire at the end of 2016. For all relevant stakeholders interested in supporting the extension of the ITC for hydropower technologies, as it has been extended for solar, please contact your representatives to emphasise the importance of the ITC for hydropower.  Natel is working with a few customers to help secure safe harbor for the ITC for their projects in 2016. 

World Irrigation Forum in Chiang Mai, Thailand (Nov 6-12)

Natel’s Michael Spolum represented Natel November 6-12th at the triennial World Irrigation Forum, which brings together stakeholders in irrigation, drainage, and related sectors. This year has a sub-theme focused on balancing water, food, energy and ecology in development.

2016 Greater Mekong Forum on Water, Food, and Energy; Bangkok, Thailand (Nov 9-11)

Michael Spolum represented Natel on a panel led by the World Wildlife Fund on a Renewable Reality for the Mekong: Vision for the Power Sector and Best Practice in Hydropower Development. 

National Hydropower Association Re-licensing and Regulatory Summit (Nov 15-16)

Gia Schneider and Meghan Harwood represented Natel at the NHA Relicensing Summit in Washington, D.C., focused on relicensing efforts, additional generation at existing facilities, and other policy and regulatory affairs.

Upcoming Event: ACWA Fall Conference (Nov 29-Dec 2)

Eric Thompson, VP Sales and Marketing, will present at the 2016 Fall Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) conference from November 29-December 2nd in Anaheim, California. He will give a technical presentation on November 30th during the 2:00-3:15 pm slot on civil construction and siting details of the first installations of Natel’s hydroEngine at Monroe and Freedom Falls. Stop by and listen in, or visit us at Booth 312.

Upcoming Event: National Hydropower Association California Regional Meeting (Dec 6-7)

On December 6th and 7th, Natel will be at the National Hydropower Association California Regional Meeting in San Diego. The focus of this years’ conference will be on protected species policies and licenses, relicensing procedures, energy storage, and the valuation of hydropower.

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