Hybrid Hydropower Systems

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

Hybrid hydropower systems combine hydropower generation with other renewable energy sources, such as solar photovoltaic (PV), wind power, or biomass energy. This integration creates a more diversified and resilient energy system, offering several advantages over standalone hydropower plants.

Impact on climate action

Hybrid Hydropower Systems within the Hydropower domain revolutionize climate action by optimizing renewable energy generation. Combining traditional hydropower with innovative technologies like solar or wind, these systems increase energy output, reduce reliance on fossil fuels, and accelerate the transition to a sustainable energy future, mitigating climate change impacts.


  • Hydropower Generation: Traditional hydropower technologies, such as dams, reservoirs, and turbines, are used to generate electricity from water resources.
  • Renewable Energy Sources: Hybrid systems incorporate additional renewable energy sources, such as solar PV panels, wind turbines, or biomass power plants.
  • System Integration and Control: Sophisticated control systems manage energy flows between the hydropower component and the other renewable energy sources, ensuring optimal performance and grid stability.
  • Energy Storage: Energy storage systems, such as batteries or pumped hydro storage, can be integrated into hybrid systems to store excess energy and provide a more consistent and reliable power supply.
  • Hybrid System Design: Different hybrid system designs exist, depending on the specific location, available resources, and energy needs. These designs can vary in the ratio of hydropower to other renewable energy sources, the type of hydropower technology used, and the integration of energy storage.

TRL : 7-8

Prominent Innovation themes

  • Hybrid Hydro-PV Systems: Combining hydropower with solar PV can create a complementary system where solar energy generation peaks during the day when hydropower generation may be lower due to reduced water flow.
  • Hybrid Hydro-Wind Systems: Integrating wind power with hydropower can provide a more consistent energy supply, as wind resources are often complementary to hydropower resources.
  • Hybrid Hydro-Biomass Systems: Biomass energy can be used to supplement hydropower generation during periods of low water availability, providing a more reliable and sustainable energy source.
  • Pumped Hydro Storage Integration: PSH can be used as a large-scale energy storage solution for hybrid hydropower systems, storing excess energy from renewable sources and releasing it when needed.
  • Smart Grid Integration: Hybrid hydropower systems can be integrated with smart grids to optimize energy flows, participate in demand response programs, and enhance grid stability.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Integration of Solar PV with Hydropower
  • Hybrid Hydro-Biomass Systems
  • Off-Grid Applications of Hybrid Hydropower Systems
  • Solar-PV Hydropower Integration
  • Wind-Hydro Synergy Systems
  • Biomass-Hydro Hybrid Plants
  • Smart Grid-Enabled Hydropower
  • Pumped Hydro Energy Storage
  • Dynamic Energy Flow Management
  • Advanced Hybrid Control Systems
  • Off-Grid Hybrid Solutions
  • Hydropower with Floating Solar PV
  • Microgrid-Integrated Hybrid Systems
  • Seasonal Energy Storage Solutions
  • Grid-Stabilizing Hybrid Technologies
  • Multi-Renewable Hybrid Projects
  • Adaptive Hybrid Energy Systems

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  • Statkraft:
    • Technology Enhancement: Statkraft is a leading renewable energy company specializing in hydropower, wind power, solar power, and other renewable energy sources. They develop and operate hybrid hydropower systems that integrate different renewable energy technologies to optimize energy production and grid stability. Their hybrid hydropower projects combine conventional hydropower with other renewables such as wind or solar, leveraging the complementary characteristics of these sources for efficient and reliable power generation.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Statkraft stands out for its extensive experience and expertise in hydropower and renewable energy integration. Their approach to hybrid hydropower systems involves strategic site selection, advanced technology deployment, and comprehensive grid integration solutions, ensuring optimal performance and value generation.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Statkraft serves utility companies, grid operators, and energy consumers seeking clean and reliable energy solutions. Their hybrid hydropower projects contribute to grid stability, renewable energy integration, and decarbonization efforts, benefiting communities, industries, and the environment.
  • Verbund:
    • Technology Enhancement: Verbund is Austria’s leading electricity company, specializing in hydropower generation and renewable energy solutions. They develop and operate hybrid hydropower systems that combine conventional hydropower plants with other renewable energy technologies such as wind or solar. Their hybrid projects aim to optimize energy production, grid stability, and environmental sustainability by leveraging the complementary characteristics of different renewable energy sources.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Verbund stands out for its focus on sustainable and integrated energy solutions, leveraging its expertise in hydropower and renewable energy development. Their hybrid hydropower projects contribute to Austria’s energy transition goals by enhancing renewable energy penetration, reducing carbon emissions, and supporting grid reliability.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Verbund serves residential, commercial, and industrial customers in Austria and neighboring regions. Their hybrid hydropower projects provide clean and reliable electricity to homes, businesses, and communities, supporting local economies and promoting environmental stewardship.
  • Enel Green Power:
    • Technology Enhancement: Enel Green Power is a global leader in renewable energy generation, including hydropower, wind power, solar power, and geothermal energy. They develop and operate hybrid hydropower systems that integrate hydropower plants with other renewable energy technologies to optimize energy production and grid stability. Their hybrid projects leverage advanced technology solutions and digitalization tools to maximize efficiency and environmental sustainability.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Enel Green Power stands out for its commitment to innovation and sustainability in the energy sector. Their expertise in hydropower and renewable energy integration enables them to develop innovative hybrid hydropower projects that contribute to the global transition to clean energy. Their projects align with Enel Green Power’s mission to create value for stakeholders while minimizing environmental impact.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Enel Green Power serves utility companies, governments, and communities worldwide, providing clean and sustainable energy solutions. Their hybrid hydropower projects support energy transition initiatives, enhance grid resilience, and promote economic development in regions where they operate.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  • Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU):
    • Research Focus: NTNU is a leading institution in research on Hybrid Hydropower Systems, focusing on integrating traditional hydropower with emerging renewable energy technologies to enhance system efficiency, flexibility, and sustainability.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves exploring the synergies between hydropower, wind energy, and solar photovoltaics (PV) to develop hybrid energy systems that can balance intermittent renewables, optimize energy production, and reduce environmental impacts. They also investigate advanced control strategies, energy storage solutions, and grid integration techniques to maximize the value of hybrid hydropower installations.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in remote off-grid communities, island grids, and microgrid networks. By combining hydropower with other renewable energy sources, NTNU’s research contributes to enhancing energy security, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and promoting the transition to a low-carbon energy system.
  • Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL):
    • Research Focus: EPFL conducts innovative research on Hybrid Hydropower Systems, leveraging its expertise in renewable energy, hydrodynamics, and energy systems modeling to develop integrated solutions for optimizing hydropower production and grid stability.
    • Uniqueness: Their research encompasses the development of advanced hydropower technologies, such as pumped storage hydroelectricity, run-of-river systems, and floating solar-hydropower hybrids, to capture the complementary benefits of water and solar energy resources. They also explore the potential of hybrid systems for providing ancillary services, grid support, and energy storage capabilities to enhance system reliability and resilience.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work find applications in alpine regions, mountainous terrain, and water-rich environments. By pioneering hybrid hydropower solutions, EPFL’s research supports the transition to a renewable energy future, where hydropower plays a key role in balancing variable renewables and meeting growing energy demand in a sustainable manner.
  • Technical University of Munich (TUM):
    • Research Focus: TUM is engaged in cutting-edge research on Hybrid Hydropower Systems, leveraging its interdisciplinary research capabilities in hydrology, energy economics, and environmental engineering to address the challenges and opportunities of integrating hydropower with other renewable energy sources.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves developing innovative concepts, design methodologies, and optimization tools for hybrid hydropower projects, considering factors such as resource availability, site characteristics, and environmental constraints. They also investigate the socio-economic implications, policy frameworks, and regulatory mechanisms for incentivizing investment in hybrid energy infrastructure and promoting sustainable development.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in river basin management, rural electrification, and climate adaptation. By advancing hybrid hydropower systems, TUM’s research contributes to enhancing energy resilience, fostering regional development, and mitigating the impacts of climate change on water resources and energy infrastructure.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Hybrid hydropower systems are being implemented in various locations around the world, providing a more diversified and resilient energy supply. For example, the Gorges Dam in China is a large-scale hydropower project that also includes a significant amount of solar PV capacity.