Enso Hydro Energy: Best Hydroelectric Power Plant Operator Europe 2015


Long before green energy claimed centre stage, hydropower was the preferred option for producing copious amounts of electricity without polluting the environment. Today, harnessing the power of rivers is still considered the best choice for generating abundant power cheaply and sustainably. Advances in the design of turbines and ancillary hardware have made hydropower feasible with reservoirs of reduced volume and minimal head.

Enso Hydro Energy of Austria is riding the wave as hydropower finds new applications in downsized projects aimed at alleviating localised energy shortages. Fully-automated designs that emphasise low-cost maintenance have managed to eliminate the need for economies of scale. They also ensure that smaller-scale hydropower plants may be run at a profit. Emitting no CO2, and cheap to build and operate, small hydroelectric projects are now widely considered the way forward when it comes to greening power generation.

Historically, Austria has been at the forefront of hydropower development. Enso Hydro Energy fits this tradition. Founded in 1999, the company can trace it origins to the Frizberg family which has been involved with hydropower since 1902. From 2010 onwards, Enso Hydro Energy is focussed on the portfolio management of hydroelectric projects, leveraging the company’s considerable knowhow in the planning, financing, building, and operating of hydropower plants. The Austrian firm is the sole owner of two hydroelectric plants in Turkey and a majority stakeholder in nine Norwegian hydropower generators.

More recently, Enso Hydro Energy partnered with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, to build a series of smaller dams in Albania. The IFC has invested $6m for a 20% stake in the joint venture that aims to increase Albania’s electricity generating capacity and thus reduce the country’s dependency on energy imports.

The CFI.co judging panel commends Enso Hydro Energy on its foresight: with high annual rainfall and a mountainous topography, Albania is ideally suited to hydropower. However, so far the country has only managed to develop less than a third of its hydroelectric potential. The judges find Enso Hydro Energy time-and-again at the leading edge of small-scale low-impact hydroelectric projects in Europe and consider the company a most worthy winner of the 2015 Best Hydroelectric Plant Operator Europe Award.