Environmental Mitigation Technologies

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

Environmental mitigation technologies for hydropower aim to minimize the negative impacts of hydropower projects on surrounding ecosystems and aquatic life. These technologies address various environmental concerns, including fish passage, sediment management, water quality, and habitat restoration.

Impact on climate action

Environmental Mitigation Technologies within Hydropower advance climate action by minimizing the ecological impacts of hydroelectric projects. By preserving biodiversity, restoring habitats, and mitigating fish passage barriers, these innovations ensure sustainable hydropower development, reducing carbon emissions and promoting renewable energy sources in harmony with the environment.


  • Fish Passage Solutions: These technologies facilitate the safe passage of fish around dams and through turbines, mitigating the impact on fish migration and populations. Examples include fish ladders, fish lifts, fish bypass channels, and fish-friendly turbine designs.
  • Sediment Management: Sediment management technologies address the accumulation of sediment behind dams, which can negatively impact downstream ecosystems and reservoir health. Examples include sediment bypass systems, flushing flows, and dredging.
  • Water Quality Management: Technologies are used to monitor and improve water quality in rivers and reservoirs affected by hydropower projects. This includes monitoring dissolved oxygen levels, temperature, and other water quality parameters, as well as implementing measures to mitigate negative impacts.
  • Habitat Restoration: Habitat restoration projects aim to restore or enhance aquatic and riparian habitats that have been impacted by hydropower development. This can involve restoring natural river flows, creating new habitats, and planting native vegetation.

TRL : 6-8 (depending on the specific technology)

Prominent Innovation themes

  • Advanced Fish Passage Designs: Researchers and engineers are developing more effective and fish-friendly fish passage solutions, such as nature-like fishways and fish guidance systems that utilize light, sound, or water velocity to attract or deter fish.
  • Sediment Bypass Systems: Innovative sediment bypass systems are being developed to efficiently transport sediment downstream of dams, reducing sediment accumulation and improving river health.
  • Water Quality Monitoring and Treatment Technologies: Advanced sensors and water treatment technologies are being used to monitor and improve water quality in hydropower-affected areas.
  • Ecological Flow Management: Strategies and technologies are being developed to manage ecological flows in rivers affected by hydropower, ensuring sufficient water for downstream ecosystems.
  • Habitat Restoration Techniques: Innovative habitat restoration techniques, such as using bioengineering and natural materials, are being used to restore and enhance aquatic and riparian habitats.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Sediment Bypass Innovations
  • Advanced Water Quality Monitoring
  • Ecological Flow Management Systems
  • Bioengineering for Habitat Restoration
  • Sensor-based Water Quality Management
  • Efficient Sediment Flushing Technologies
  • Riparian Habitat Enhancement
  • Remote Ecological Flow Monitoring
  • Aquatic Vegetation Restoration Techniques
  • Hydroelectric Reservoir Ecosystem Restoration

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  • Natel Energy:
    • Technology Enhancement: Natel Energy specializes in innovative hydropower solutions designed to minimize environmental impact while harnessing the power of flowing water. Their technology includes low-head hydropower turbines and engineered systems that enable fish passage and habitat restoration. Natel Energy’s systems prioritize environmental sustainability by ensuring minimal disruption to aquatic ecosystems and wildlife.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Natel Energy stands out for its commitment to developing environmentally friendly hydropower solutions that balance energy generation with ecosystem conservation. Their approach focuses on leveraging natural water resources responsibly, mitigating habitat fragmentation, and supporting aquatic biodiversity.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Natel Energy serves utilities, hydropower developers, and conservation organizations seeking sustainable hydropower solutions. Their environmental mitigation technologies are deployed in river restoration projects, dam redevelopments, and hydropower installations, enabling stakeholders to achieve renewable energy goals while preserving natural habitats.
  • Whooshh Innovations:
    • Technology Enhancement: Whooshh Innovations specializes in fish passage and environmental mitigation technologies for hydroelectric facilities, dams, and waterways. Their innovative fish transport systems, including the Whooshh Fish Transport System, use pneumatic tubes and gentle handling techniques to safely move fish past barriers such as dams and turbines, reducing mortality rates and improving migration pathways.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Whooshh Innovations stands out for its revolutionary approach to fish passage and environmental mitigation in the hydropower industry. Their pneumatic fish transport systems offer a humane and efficient alternative to traditional fish ladders and traps, minimizing stress on fish populations and enhancing ecological connectivity.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Whooshh Innovations serves hydropower operators, government agencies, and environmental organizations seeking effective solutions for fish passage and habitat restoration. Their fish transport systems are deployed in dam removal projects, fish passage facilities, and waterway infrastructure upgrades, supporting fish migration and ecosystem health.
  • Biohabitats:
    • Technology Enhancement: Biohabitats specializes in ecological restoration and environmental consulting services aimed at enhancing natural habitats and ecosystem functions. Their approach involves ecological assessment, habitat design, and restoration planning to address environmental impacts from infrastructure development, land use changes, and water resource management.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Biohabitats stands out for its holistic approach to environmental mitigation and habitat restoration, integrating ecological science, engineering, and landscape architecture. Their projects prioritize biodiversity conservation, watershed protection, and ecosystem resilience, contributing to sustainable land and water management practices.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Biohabitats serves a diverse range of clients, including government agencies, private developers, and nonprofit organizations, seeking solutions for environmental mitigation and habitat restoration. Their services are applied in urban redevelopment projects, natural resource management initiatives, and ecosystem restoration efforts, promoting ecological health and resilience.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  • Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL):
    • Research Focus: PNNL is at the forefront of research on Environmental Mitigation Technologies in Hydropower, focusing on developing advanced solutions to minimize the environmental impacts associated with hydropower infrastructure development and operation.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves the development and testing of innovative technologies and strategies for mitigating the ecological, hydrological, and socio-economic effects of dams, reservoirs, and other hydropower facilities. They employ a multidisciplinary approach, combining hydrodynamic modeling, ecological risk assessment, and stakeholder engagement to identify mitigation priorities and design effective interventions.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in hydropower licensing, environmental compliance, and ecosystem restoration. By developing and implementing environmental mitigation technologies, PNNL’s research aims to promote sustainable hydropower development, maintain river health, and enhance aquatic biodiversity and ecosystem services.
  • University of Washington:
    • Research Focus: The University of Washington conducts pioneering research on Environmental Mitigation Technologies in Hydropower, leveraging its expertise in aquatic ecology, geomorphology, and water resources management to address the environmental challenges associated with hydropower projects.
    • Uniqueness: Their research spans a wide range of topics, including fish passage design, sediment management, and habitat restoration, with a focus on developing science-based solutions that balance energy production with environmental conservation goals. They collaborate with government agencies, industry partners, and local communities to co-design and implement mitigation measures that minimize ecological disturbance and promote riverine ecosystem health.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work find applications in dam relicensing, habitat enhancement, and adaptive management of hydropower operations. By advancing environmental mitigation technologies, the University of Washington’s research supports the sustainable development of hydropower resources while safeguarding freshwater biodiversity and ecosystem resilience.
  • Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU):
    • Research Focus: NTNU is engaged in innovative research on Environmental Mitigation Technologies in Hydropower, drawing on Norway’s extensive experience in hydropower development and environmental stewardship to develop best practices and technological innovations for mitigating the impacts of hydropower projects.
    • Uniqueness: Their research encompasses the development of eco-friendly turbine designs, fish-friendly intake structures, and habitat restoration techniques tailored to the ecological requirements of local fish populations and river ecosystems. They also investigate the ecological effects of climate change on hydropower operations and explore adaptive management strategies to enhance system resilience and sustainability.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in hydropower planning, operation, and decommissioning. By integrating environmental mitigation technologies into hydropower development, NTNU’s research contributes to the conservation of aquatic biodiversity, the restoration of riverine habitats, and the preservation of ecosystem functions and services.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Environmental mitigation technologies are being increasingly implemented in new and existing hydropower projects around the world. For example, fish passage solutions are now a common requirement for new hydropower development in many countries.