The Alamedan: Alameda businesses honored for innovation, March 10, 2015


Natel Energy, a young company in comparison with DOER and Abbott, was started in 2009 and focuses on making advancements in hydropower. This is the company’s first nomination for an Innovation Award, and Chief Executive Officer Gia Schneider hopes they earn another nomination as the company continues to grow.

Schneider said the company recently closed its first sales, and its first commercial project will be online this summer. The company has developed a new technology, Schneider said, that bundles large numbers of separate, low-pressure water flows in order to generate electricity cheaply.

“Practically speaking, this means that tens of thousands of low irrigation drops and existing low dams and weirs can be turned into renewable energy projects,” she said.

The benefits of such technology, Schneider said, include an improved water infrastructure, reliable electricity that is free of carbon emissions, increased soil moisture, and aquifers that are recharged over time. Because her company’s technology slows “the runoff of water across the land,” it can also help provide relief for areas affected by drought, she said.

“Our vision is to transform hydropower into a truly sustainable energy source that complements wind and solar,” Schneider said.

Schneider singled out Alameda Point and the Island’s business community as two things that drew the company to Alameda.

“There’s a great mix of companies here, and the space was also well-suited to enable us to grow,” she said.