Hydropower for Water Management

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

Hydropower for water management involves utilizing hydropower infrastructure and technologies to not only generate electricity but also manage and optimize water resources. This integrated approach recognizes the interconnectedness of water and energy systems and seeks to balance the needs of both sectors for sustainable development.

Impact on climate action

Hydropower for Water Management under the Hydropower theme advances climate action by providing renewable energy while managing water resources. By regulating water flow, mitigating floods, and supporting irrigation, this innovation enhances resilience to climate change impacts, promotes sustainable water usage, and contributes to a low-carbon energy transition.


  • Multipurpose Hydropower Projects: These projects are designed to serve multiple purposes, such as electricity generation, flood control, irrigation, and water supply.
  • Reservoir Management: Hydropower reservoirs can be managed to optimize water storage and release for various purposes, including irrigation, water supply, and environmental flows.
  • Hydropower-Irrigation Integration: Hydropower plants can be integrated with irrigation systems to provide a reliable source of water for agriculture while also generating electricity.
  • Water Quality Management: Hydropower projects can be designed and operated to improve water quality by removing sediment, controlling erosion, and enhancing aeration.
  • Environmental Flows: Maintaining adequate environmental flows downstream of hydropower dams is crucial for protecting aquatic ecosystems and biodiversity.

TRL : 7-8

Prominent Innovation themes

  • Smart Water Management Systems: Advanced sensor networks, data analytics, and AI are being used to develop smart water management systems that optimize water use and allocation in hydropower systems.
  • Real-Time Monitoring and Control: Real-time monitoring of water flow, reservoir levels, and environmental conditions allows for more efficient and responsive water management.
  • Integrated Hydropower-Irrigation Systems: Innovative designs and technologies are being developed to integrate hydropower generation with irrigation systems, maximizing water use efficiency and providing a reliable source of water for agriculture.
  • Sediment Management Technologies: Advanced sediment management technologies, such as sediment bypass systems and flushing flows, can reduce sediment accumulation behind dams and improve downstream river health.
  • Environmental Flow Management Tools: Decision support tools and modeling techniques are being developed to help hydropower operators manage environmental flows and minimize impacts on aquatic ecosystems.

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  • Voith Hydro:
    • Technology Enhancement: Voith Hydro is a global leader in hydropower technology and solutions. They provide a wide range of products and services for hydropower generation, including turbines, generators, automation systems, and digital solutions for water management. Voith’s advanced hydropower technologies help optimize water resources, enhance energy efficiency, and mitigate environmental impact.
    • Uniqueness of the Company: Voith Hydro stands out for its extensive experience and expertise in hydropower engineering, innovation, and project execution. Their solutions are tailored to meet the specific needs of hydropower plants, dams, and water infrastructure projects worldwide, addressing challenges related to energy generation, water supply, flood control, and environmental conservation.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Voith Hydro serves utilities, governments, and industrial customers involved in hydropower development, water management, and renewable energy projects. Their solutions are deployed in various applications, including run-of-river plants, reservoir-based hydropower, pumped storage, and irrigation systems, supporting sustainable water and energy management.
  • Andritz Hydro:
    • Technology Enhancement: Andritz Hydro is a leading provider of electromechanical equipment and services for hydropower generation and water management. Their product portfolio includes turbines, generators, control systems, and automation solutions for hydroelectric power plants and water infrastructure projects. Andritz’s innovative technologies focus on maximizing energy efficiency, operational reliability, and environmental sustainability.
    • Uniqueness of the Company: Andritz Hydro stands out for its global presence, diversified product offerings, and focus on technological innovation in hydropower and water management. Their expertise spans the entire project lifecycle, from design and engineering to manufacturing, installation, and maintenance, enabling them to deliver customized solutions for complex water-related challenges.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Andritz Hydro serves a wide range of customers, including utilities, governments, and industrial clients involved in hydropower development, irrigation, flood control, and water supply projects. Their solutions are deployed in diverse environments, from remote mountainous regions to urban water systems, contributing to sustainable water and energy infrastructure.
  • ABB:
    • Technology Enhancement: ABB is a global technology company that provides a broad range of products, systems, and services for power generation, transmission, and distribution. In the hydropower sector, ABB offers advanced automation, control, and digital solutions for optimizing the performance and efficiency of hydropower plants and water infrastructure. Their offerings include integrated solutions for asset management, predictive maintenance, and grid integration.
    • Uniqueness of the Company: ABB stands out for its expertise in digitalization, electrification, and automation technologies, which are essential for modernizing and optimizing hydropower and water management systems. Their solutions help improve operational efficiency, reliability, and safety while reducing environmental impact and lifecycle costs.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: ABB serves utilities, energy companies, and industrial clients involved in hydropower generation, grid management, and water infrastructure projects. Their solutions are deployed in hydropower plants, dams, irrigation networks, and water treatment facilities, supporting efficient and sustainable water resource management.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  • University of California, Berkeley:
    • Research Focus: UC Berkeley is actively involved in research on leveraging hydropower for water management, focusing on developing innovative approaches to integrate hydropower generation with water supply, flood control, and ecosystem management.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves studying the synergies and trade-offs between hydropower production and other water management objectives, such as irrigation, municipal water supply, and environmental conservation. They also investigate advanced hydropower technologies, such as run-of-river turbines, pumped storage systems, and small-scale hydro, to maximize energy generation while minimizing environmental impacts.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in water-stressed regions, river basin management, and climate change adaptation. By optimizing hydropower operations for multiple benefits, UC Berkeley’s research contributes to enhancing water resilience, ecosystem health, and renewable energy integration in the face of evolving hydrological conditions and competing water demands.
  • Stanford University:
    • Research Focus: Stanford University conducts innovative research on harnessing hydropower for water management, leveraging its expertise in water resources engineering, environmental science, and renewable energy systems to address complex water-energy challenges.
    • Uniqueness: Their research encompasses the development of integrated modeling frameworks, decision support tools, and risk assessment methodologies to optimize hydropower operations in multi-use water systems. They also explore adaptive management strategies, institutional arrangements, and policy interventions to promote sustainable hydropower development while safeguarding ecosystem services and social equity.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work find applications in hydropower planning, reservoir management, and climate resilience. By advancing knowledge and technologies for hydropower-water management nexus, Stanford’s research supports informed decision-making, stakeholder engagement, and sustainable development of hydropower resources in a changing hydrological environment.
  • Technical University of Munich (TUM):
    • Research Focus: TUM is engaged in cutting-edge research on integrating hydropower with water management, drawing on its expertise in hydroinformatics, hydraulic engineering, and renewable energy systems to develop holistic solutions for optimizing water-energy nexus.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves leveraging state-of-the-art sensors, remote sensing technologies, and modeling approaches to assess the potential and performance of hydropower systems under varying hydrological conditions. They also investigate novel hydropower concepts, such as run-of-river hydropower, micro-hydro turbines, and eco-friendly turbines, to enhance energy efficiency and environmental sustainability.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in river basin planning, hydropower licensing, and climate change mitigation. By promoting integrated water-energy management practices, TUM’s research contributes to enhancing water security, renewable energy deployment, and ecosystem conservation in riverine landscapes.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Hydropower for water management is widely implemented in many countries, particularly in regions with large hydropower resources and significant water management challenges. For example, the Hoover Dam in the United States is a multipurpose hydropower project that provides electricity generation, flood control, and water supply for the southwestern United States.