Snow is an indispensable water reservoir for hydroelectric power plants because at higher altitudes in summer it turns into meltwater, which is then stored in reservoirs. If the operators of hydroelectric power plants knew in advance when and how much meltwater is going to flow into their reservoirs, they would be able to optimize water reservoirs along with their electricity generation. However, a lot of hydroelectric power plants do not have this information (as yet) about snow distribution in the catchment areas of their reservoirs.
“We want to provide hydroelectric power plant operators with forecasts for melting snow and influx of water to help them generate energy in a more profitable way,” says Reik Leiterer, co-founder of ExoLabs and research associate at the Science Lab of the University of Zurich (UZH, Switzerland). This kind of knowledge also has a financial impact. “A 500-megawatt hydroelectric power plant can save up to half a million Swiss francs a year if it is able to plan more precisely around the availability of water in its reservoirs.”
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