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Ara Ake partners with South Island Hydro generators and international start-up, Wegaw

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

South Island hydro generators Contact Energy, Meridian Energy and Genesis Energy have agreed to be involved in a collaborative project, with the aim of improving their water management and forecasting in their South Island snow-fed catchments.

This opportunity has been made possible through Ara Ake’s partnership with Wegaw. Based in Morges, Switzerland, Wegaw uses satellite imagery and Machine Learning algorithms to enable energy companies to optimise their generation and trading to create more sustainable clean energy production. Wegaw's current products provide accurate information on snow and water resources based on earth observation data in near-real time in Europe, Canada and Oceania.

Ara Ake Chief Executive, Dr. Cristiano Marantes, is looking forward to seeing Wegaw’s technology being implemented in an Aotearoa New Zealand setting.

"Connecting our national electricity generators with Wegaw’s AI technology is an exciting opportunity for generators to add value to their forecasting and ultimately play a stronger role in the nation’s low-emissions future".

Wegaw will be providing satellite-based information on the snow-water content for three of New Zealand's biggest hydropower producers. This information is used in an effort to optimise the national hydropower production with the help of innovative technology combining geospatial insights and Artificial Intelligence.

Wegaw say their forecasting can create an up to 10% electricity production increase and an up to 30% reduction of water spill. For seasonal water forecast, Wegaw’s products enable a reduction in error by 20 to 40% says Wegaw - Member of the World Alliance (

"With New Zealand at the global forefront of switching their electricity production to 100% renewable sources, we are excited about the opportunity to give the national hydropower industry better insights into their snow and water resources with space-based data and contribute to a clean and secure electricity generation nationwide," says Daria Ludtke, CTO of Wegaw.

Wegaw initially established their technology to enable alpine tourism destinations and ski resorts to optimise their operations, through satellite data. They then progressed their technology to assist hydro generators with optimising their resources through remote sensing satellite data analytics and AI. They currently utilise 7+ European Space Agency and NASA satellites.

Chief Operations Officer at Genesis, Nigel Clark, said the Genesis was excited to be part of the research project. "We’re keen to investigate technology that could help optimise hydro generation and conserve water," said Clark.

Contact Energy’s head of hydro generation Boyd Brinsdon welcomed the move. "We are constantly looking for how we can improve our operational excellence, resource management and hydro-generation efficiency. Embracing and experimenting with new technology is all part of doing right by New Zealand and making the best use of the precious renewable resource we are responsible for."

Benjamin Bishop, Systems Modeller from Meridian Energy said, "We at Meridian Energy are excited to be working with Wegaw and Ara Ake to support development of this innovative method to forecast snow storage, which provides a significant amount of New Zealand’s annual renewable generation."

Wegaw have recently applied to join Elemental Excelerator, the global accelerator who seek passionate teams from around the world committed to solving climate change. Ara Ake joined Elemental Excelerator as a ‘Scale-Up’ partner in March 2021.

The New Zealand hydro optimisation project commenced on 1 September 2021.

About Ara Ake

Ara Ake is New Zealand’s new energy centre, based in Taranaki. We collaborate across the energy ecosystem to lead and facilitate the development of low-emissions energy innovation and technology in New Zealand. For more information, visit

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