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16 R&D Projects Across 11 States to Advance Hydropower in U.S.

September 6, 2011 - 3:38pm


Today, Secretary Chu announced that the Energy Department is funding 16 projects that will make hydropower production even more efficient, cost-effective and environmentally friendly. These research projects will help advance hydropower technologies – providing clean power to Americans while creating jobs. Hydropower technologies capture water's potential energy via a turbine to generate electricity. It is the nation's largest, most reliable, and least expensive source of renewable power generation.

Companies, universities, national laboratories, and local governments spread throughout 11 states will receive nearly $17 million over the next two to three years to develop technologies that produce hydropower more efficiently and reduce costs and possible environmental effects of hydropower development.

The funding announced today will support research, development and deployment of advanced and pumped storage hydropower technologies.  The projects will move the nation closer to achieving the goal of generating 80 percent of our electricity from clean energy sources by 2035.

The projects cover a wide range of topics, from extracting energy from irrigation canals and low height dams to using reservoirs for energy storage, to deploying a fish-friendly turbine. The 16 projects fall under one of four approaches to advancing hydropower in the United States:

•    Sustainable Small Hydropower: Ten projects to research, develop, and test hydropower technologies that can be deployed at existing or constructed waterways.

•    Sustainable Pumped Storage Hydropower: Two projects to spur deployment of advanced pumped storage hydropower, a method that can be used for generation during peak electrical demand times that involves moving water between reservoirs at different elevations.

•    Environmental Mitigation Technologies for Conventional Hydropower: Three projects to develop innovative conventional hydropower technologies that will help decrease possible environmental effects such as fish mortality.

•    Advanced Hydropower System Testing at a Bureau of Reclamation Facility: One project to support system tests of conventional hydropower technologies at a Bureau of Reclamation canal drop near Madras, Oregon.

The awards were made by the Department’s Wind and Water Power Program. Read the full list of award winners here and check out Water and Wind Power Program website for more information.