Access to low-cost, reliable power is a key driver to progress and eliminating energy poverty around the world. Knight Piésold has been assisting clients in identifying and developing clean energy projects since 1926. We have grown from strength to strength over the last 90 years, and are now a world leader in identifying and engineering cost-effective energy solutions for private and public sector clients throughout the world. Our technical expertise comprises the following areas:

  • Hydropower (storage, pumped storage, run-of-river)
  • Wind power (wind farms on-shore and off-shore, wind-hydro and wind-diesel combinations)
  • Solar power
  • Wave and tidal power
  • Geothermal power
  • Thermal power
  • Transmission lines and substations
  • Energy efficiency, energy audits, strategic energy planning

Whether you are looking at a greenfield project for supplying power to the national grid or an isolated off-grid hydropower development to supply power to a remote mine site, our team has the experience and proven track record to help you achieve your goals in a cost-effective and sustainable manner.


Knight Piésold has been in the hydropower business for over 85 years with extensive experience in large and small hydroelectric projects throughout the world. Our experience includes water storage, run-of-river, and pumped storage projects. We provide a one-stop shop for hydropower development, including resource identification and evaluation, financial services, environmental impact assessments, permitting, project management, site investigations, detailed engineering design, site supervision, staffing and training, commissioning, and asset management. The improvement of existing facilities and replacement or upgrade of aging or low efficient equipment are also key elements of our hydropower practice. Knight Piésold offers innovative, dedicated, and cost-effective solutions to our clients worldwide, and this has placed us at the forefront of hydropower development.

Storage Hydropower

The value of hydropower with water (energy) storage capabilities is becoming more and more valuable as the world continues its move toward a greener economy, with less reliance on fossil fuels and more reliance on renewable energy technologies. The majority of these renewable technologies provide an intermittent energy supply, and hence the need to store energy becomes increasingly important, with storage and pumped storage hydro as some of the most viable and environmentally responsible solutions. We offer all the engineering and environmental services required to complete the full scope of storage hydro facilities, including extensive reservoir and dam design experience with all major dam types, including:

  • Concrete faced rockfill dams
  • Roller compacted concrete dams
  • Asphalt core rockfill dams
  • Mass gravity and stepped spillway dams
  • Earth embankment dams
  • Rockfill masonry concrete dams  
  • Membrane dams
  • Multi-arch concrete dams

Pumped Storage

A pumped storage plant uses two reservoirs, one located at a much higher elevation than the other. During periods of low demand for electricity, such as nights and weekends, energy is stored by reversing the turbines and pumping water from the lower to the upper reservoir. The stored water can later be released to turn the turbines and generate electricity as it flows back into the lower reservoir. Knight Piésold has the capabilities to complete the required 4-quadrant hydraulic transient analyses unique to pumped storage hydro and has developed an in-house GIS-based pumped storage hydro identification and evaluation tool. Knight Piésold’s team has the experience and dedication to help you identify opportunities and realize your pumped storage hydro goals in a cost-effective and sustainable manner. Our recent pumped storage experience includes projects and concepts such as:

  • Traditional fresh water pumped storage hydro, with new upper and lower reservoirs
  • Fresh water pumped storage hydro using existing lower reservoirs or lakes and new upper reservoirs
  • Combined inter basin water transfer and pumped storage hydro
  • Saltwater pumped storage hydro


Run-of-river hydro projects use the natural flow and elevation drop of a river to generate electricity. There are no major storage facilities or flooded areas, and run-of-river developments have one of the lowest overall carbon footprints of any renewable energy technology. We pioneered the development of run-of-river hydropower facilities and these developments are one of the most cost-effective renewable energy sources. Our innovative approach to sustainable hydropower development has placed us in the forefront of run-of-river hydro development. Our water basin planning capability allows the consideration of multiple water uses and coordinated operations of multiple hydroelectric run-of-river facilities. We offer a full range of services from project identification, including the use of GIS integrated assessment tools, to permitting, detailed design, and construction supervision. Some of the latest innovations in cost-effective run-of-river hydropower design that have been advanced by Knight Piésold include:

  • Coanda screen intakes, including the largest capacity Coanda screen in the world
  • Reservoir desanders using inflatable rubber dams, Obermeyer crest gates or similar
  • Vortex desander combined with ecological flow release
  • Soil restrained penstock design to eliminate expensive concrete anchor blocks

Wind Power

Wind power has established itself as an economically viable, mature technology and a reliable form of renewable energy. The costs per unit power installed are among the lowest of all power sources. The technology has advanced to the point that 2 MW wind turbines are normative and 5 to 10 MW turbines are being designed for offshore wind farms.

Knight Piésold leads wind energy projects from conception to completion, evaluating wind energy resources and carrying out all permitting, modeling, geotechnical and interconnection studies, and financial analyses. Furthermore, we can manage construction and supervise commissioning. We offer due diligence reviews for all aspects of the project design and perform evaluations of the wind power plant once operational.

Our renewable energy team has developed particular expertise in the concept of wind-hydro, where we combine the modulation and storage capabilities of a water reservoir with a wind power plant. Coordinated operation of multiple wind projects can also result in reduced renewable source generation interruptions, and when integrated with hydropower and thermal power operations, can reduce fuel used.   A wind-hydro storage solution can provide dispatchable power from clean sources.

Our engineers and environmental scientists are also experts in wind-diesel power systems. This option consists of a combination of diesel and wind power, and applies to those communities that have already invested in electricity generated from diesel. The ability to reduce fuel usage can be significant savings for a community or mine.

Thermal Power

Knight Piésold has extensive experience in many aspects of thermal power stations, including environmental protection, ash disposal, heavy machinery foundations, chimney stacks, and major engineering structures such as boiler houses. We have also become a world leader in the engineering of co-generation systems, circulating water systems, and cooling towers. This very specialized knowledge has allowed our participation in related fields outside of the power generation industry, and Knight Piésold has also been involved in a number of energy-related and heat-disposal projects in the petrochemical, mining and steelmaking industries.

Thermal power plant conversion from a high cost fuel to a lower cost fuel is a common issue in the volatile fuel price economy. Identifying sources of lower cost fuels to replace oil, and planning the needed facility modifications to accommodate the fuel change is part of our thermal practice. Knight Piésold can plan modifications to existing facilities or develop requirements for greenfield sites. Fuel storage and usage planning is key to facility development. We prepare design-build tender documents (EPC or EPC with financing) and can assist owners with design-build (EPC) contractor selection, as well as with contract management and supervision support for procurement, construction, commissioning, facility operations and maintenance, spare parts management, and asset management.

Other Renewables

Increasing the use of renewable energy is essential to our planet's well-being. Knight Piésold has taken a lead in identifying and developing opportunities for green power generation, which include hydropower, wind power, solar power, kinetic power, wave power, and geothermal. These technologies are becoming increasingly important as governments and communities look for real contributions to reducing global warming. Renewable energy sources are an important part in providing a mix of sustainable generation capacity, and for off-grid consumers, green energy solutions provide an alternative to diesel generation. Technologies such as wind-diesel, kinetic-diesel, and wave-diesel offer real solutions that reduce the reliance on oil while decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.

Other renewable energy sources where Knight Piésold provides both engineering and environmental services for, from project identification and feasibility to permitting and detailed design, include:

  • Solar power
  • Hydro kinetics
  • Wave and tidal power
  • Biogas power
  • Biomass power
  • Geothermal power

Transmission Lines and Substations

Knight Piésold offers a full range of engineering and environmental services associated with the design and permitting of transmission lines and substations from 10 kV to 500 kV. We also identify the most viable interconnection solutions for projects from 1 MW to over 1,000 MW and step-up transformers from 4 kV to 500 kV. We specialize in designing infrastructure to deal with some of the most challenging terrain on the planet. Services include:

  • Route selection and optimization
  • Voltage selection and optimization
  • Interconnection studies
  • Feasibility and detailed design
  • Environmental studies and permitting