ESA title

Space for Hydro Energy Sector

  • Activity Feasibility Study
  • Opening date 08-07-2021
  • Closing date 20-09-2021


Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is one of the great challenges of the coming years. Sustainable development requires more and better use of renewable energies such as hydroelectric, wind and solar energy, which has become increasingly important in the energy market. Hydroelectricity uses water from rivers or stored in dams to produce electricity through the rotation of turbine blades. Hydroelectric power is significantly affected by the natural variability of available water inside rivers. To manage hydroelectric plants and plan the production or storage of water and evaluate their impacts on the power market, it is necessary to know not only the rain, but also the water contained within the snowpack (snow water equivalent). In situ measurements combined with satellite and meteorological models could improve the estimation of the snow cover and of snow water equivalent, reducing exposure to their natural variability.

To address these challenges and promising business prospects, ESA has issued the present Announcement of Opportunity (AO) for feasibility studies, in cooperation with Enel Global Trading S.p.A. (also referred to as EGT). The AO aims at investigating the technical feasibility and economic viability of space-based applications to support nowcasting and forecasting of hydroelectric power generation, and must include the development of a mock-up/prototype (Proof of Concept) demonstrating the technical feasibility.

Enel Global Trading S.p.A. has a large cluster of hydrological power plants mainly located over Alpine and Apennine areas. The knowledge of snowpack and ice thickness is therefore a crucial aspect in EGT business. 


Tenderers are invited to propose a feasibility study addressing one of the following Use Cases:


A proper estimation of water content in the snow could enable energy producers to better manage the natural resources and make the renewable power production more efficient, being able to predict the inflow at turbine. A combination of satellite data, weather forecast modelling and in situ data can improve the estimation of these snow variables. 

Specific requirements for Enel Global Trading S.p.A. Use Case:

  • Development of a tool to produce an estimation of the snow water equivalent and snow cover, with a weekly/fortnight sampling of measurements 
  • A synergy between satellite data and weather forecast modelling is requested, as well as in situ measurements for validation
  • Data format should include information on longitude, latitude, altitude, time; csv or xlsx file formats can be suitable for this scope
  • Pilot areas (geographic coverage) must be selected over a set of geographical grid points (to be defined by EGT). It is anticipated that the geographical area will contain the Alpine region.


Earth Observation (SatEO) imagery can be used for:

  • Deriving snow cover area in case hydro plants were located in the high mountains and part of the water used for production comes from snow. (Hydro power plant operators need information on snow coverage and melting to manage their basin and plan production)
  • Monitoring changes in water resources of lakes and reservoirs to support optimised hydropower production planning (not applicable to EGT use cases)

Satellite Navigation (SatNav) can be used for:

  • Geo-referencing sensor data related e.g. to infrastructure condition
  • GNSS to measure water level from reflected signals (using GNSS-R instrument)

Satellite Communications (SatCom) can be used for:

  • Enabling M2M communication / IoT communication for in-situ sensors
  • Provide communication for other imagery platforms (RPAS, HAPS)

It is mandatory to develop solutions based on at least one space asset. If relevant, other technologies such as Augmented/Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning, can be integrated in the end-to-end solution.


ESA will bear up to 50% of the acceptable cost of the feasibility study, up to a maximum estimated cost of €120,000. To the extent that activities are performed by micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, said activities are funded up to 80 % by ESA, depending on the funding level authorised by the related ESA National Delegation(s).

Furthermore, the selected Tenderer(s) will also have the possibility to collaborate with EGT with a dedicated contract and receive additional support. Any conditions for potential support of EGT shall be negotiated directly between EGT and the Tenderer. Such EGT additional support could entail a contract with the Tenderer in order to cover a part of the Tenderer’s overall cost, and/or to define the potential strategic/technical support to deliver the mock-up / prototype.

The remainder has to be financed by the Tenderer through private sector directly and/or via indirect co-funding and/or by the users based on terms and conditions to be agreed upon.


Motivation, business experience and domain expertise are all important features. We want to hear about your ideas that involve utilisation of either space technology or space data. 

For this call, companies residing in the following Member States will be eligible to apply: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom

Economic Operators, intending to respond to this AO are requested to inform their National Delegation of their intention to submit a proposal as soon as possible, prior to the submission of the Outline Proposal.


The tendering process follows a two steps approach: 

The first step requires the submission of the Outline Proposal (OP). The OP template is available on this webpage. The OP shall be submitted to ESA as indicated in the template itself.

The Tenderers whose OP is positively evaluated, will be invited by the Agency to prepare a Full Proposal. Full Proposals shall be submitted via esa-star, under the Announcement of Opportunity AO/1-10946.

Registration as Bidder

The Prime must register as potential bidder via esa-star, prior to downloading the official tender documents from esa-star publications and submitting the Proposal. The registration process needs to be started as soon as possible, as it will take time to complete.


  • 11:00 CEST, 23 June 2021