DOE, Interior Award Nearly $17 Million for Advanced Hydropower

September 7, 2011

DOE and the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) announced on September 6 that they had awarded nearly $17 million in funding over the next three years for research and development projects to advance hydropower technology. Sixteen projects in 11 states were selected through a competitive grant process for their ability to contribute to the development of innovative technologies that produce hydropower more efficiently, reduce costs, and increase sustainable hydropower generation.

These projects will advance sustainable renewable energy generation from small (less than 30 megawatts) hydropower resources. They will also enhance the environmental performance of hydropower, test innovative technologies for hydropower development at low-head (less than a 30 foot drop) sites such as irrigation canals and non-powered dams, and spur deployment of pumped storage hydropower. By allowing utility operators to pump water up to a dam or impoundment during periods of low electricity demand and release water during times of peak electricity demand, pumped storage hydropower improves the reliability of electric grids and helps increase the use of variable renewable energy resources such as wind and solar power.

The selections announced focus on four approaches to advancing hydropower in the United States. Sustainable Small Hydropower will research, develop, and test low-head, small hydropower technologies that can be quickly and efficiently deployed at existing non-powered dams or constructed waterways. Sustainable Pumped Storage Hydropower projects will spur deployment of advanced pumped storage hydropower in the United States. Environmental Mitigation Technologies for Conventional Hydropower will include projects designed to develop innovative hydropower technologies that will enhance environmental performance while increasing electricity generation. And Advanced Hydropower System Testing at a DOI Bureau of Reclamation Facility will support system tests of innovative, low-head, small hydropower technologies at a non-powered site owned by the Bureau of Reclamation. Energy cost reductions demonstrated at this site could be replicated at other Bureau of Reclamation sites. See the DOE press release and the full list of award winners.