Young Italian engineer pioneers technology that generates clean electricity in mining operations
Daniele Novara, start-up founder behind first-ever hydropower station in a mine, announced as a finalist in the upcoming EU Sustainable Energy Awards.
A mere 40 kilometres north of Dublin, Ireland, a water turbine located deep in a zinc mine is producing 30kW of clean energy thanks to a novel technology developed by Daniele Novara, 29, and his start-up Easy Hydro. Such innovative technology has stemmed from Daniele’s work at Trinity College Dublin and uses modular water pumps to create low-cost, small-scale hydropower stations capable of exploiting untapped energy within existing water pipes.
“Our installation at the zinc mine in Ireland is the first-ever hydropower station within an operating underground mine. At this site alone we will see annual savings of 200MWh, the equivalent of powering roughly 50 households, and an offset of about 60 tonnes of carbon per year,“ explains Daniele. “Our technology is particularly suitable for recovering energy from pipe networks and existing water infrastructure, making it a scalable solution for mining companies looking to green their operations and consume less electricity."
During his PhD at Trinity College Dublin, Daniele, an Italian-born engineer, developed the intellectual property that eventually led to him founding Easy Hydro at the end of 2019. Thanks to collaboration with EU-based equipment manufacturers and a Swedish mining company, together with funding from the European Institute of Innovation and Technology’s (EIT) Raw Materials consortium, he and his team were able to complete the first turbine installation in 2021.
Prior to completing his PhD in Ireland, Daniele obtained a BSc and a double MSc degree in Energy Engineering and Management from universities in Italy, Poland and Portugal. This international outlook has followed Daniele to the business world, where as CEO of Easy Hydro he is already in discussions to replicate the hydropower station with major mining companies in areas such as North America, South Africa and Sweden.
“Our goal now is to focus on commercialisation and creating a positive impact in the mining sector at scale,“ says Daniele. “The pilot installation proves that we can produce carbon-free electricity from surplus water pressure in the underground works in a cost-effective way. With an estimated payback of just 2-3 years on equipment that is expected to have a lifetime of over 25 years, the Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) is extremely low and close to 0.01€/kWh".
“There is an outstanding potential with this technology. Its widespread use could result in savings of over 400,000 tonnes of CO2 annually,“ says Daniele. With large-scale adoption of the technology in view, he is optimistic about the impact his company can make and its contribution to bringing the EU closer to the 2030 targets.
European youth take action to shape a sustainable energy future
Daniele Novara is one of three finalists shortlisted for the EU Sustainable Energy Awards 2021 in the Young Energy Trailblazer category. The award recognises outstanding activities carried out by young people (under 35) which advance the clean energy transition in Europe and inspire ambitious climate and energy action. The two other contenders in the category are Merve Güngör and Filip Koprčina.
Merve is in charge of communications at EKOEnergy, an ecolabel recognising sustainable energy in order to encourage consumers to engage with the green energy transition. Filip is the founder of Energy Shift, the blockchain-powered platform that allows citizens to invest in and support solar energy projects around the world.
EU Sustainable Energy Awards recognise champions of 2030 climate and energy targets
Twelve outstanding individuals and projects are highlighted at the EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) 2021 for their innovation in energy efficiency and renewables. Finalists were chosen from a list of the year’s most successful projects for clean, secure and efficient energy. The awards have four categories - Engagement, Innovation, Woman in Energy and Young Energy Trailblazer – as well as the Citizen’s Award, which will be received by one of the projects in the first two categories. Prizes will be awarded by an expert jury (for Engagement and Innovation), and by citizens via a public vote, which is now open until 22 October. The five winners will be announced on Monday 25 October during EUSEW 2021.
EUSEW 2021 runs from 25 to 29 October 2021, under the theme ‘Towards 2030: Reshaping the European Energy System’. Taking place ahead of the decisive COP 26, the event brings together energy policy experts, industry leaders, academia and civil society representatives to discuss how forward-looking policies for decarbonisation, energy efficiency, climate mitigation, and many others comprising the European Green Deal, can help rebuild a better and more resilient society and economy.
EUSEW 2021 is held as an online event once again, with more opportunities than ever to connect, engage, network and reflect on the biggest issues in clean energy in Europe and beyond.
Registrations for participants and for media are now open.
For interview requests with the EUSEW 2021 Award finalists or additional media information, please contact [email protected]