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Energy Department to Fund R&D to Advance Low-Impact Hydropower Technologies

April 9, 2015 - 1:27pm


The Energy Department today announced $7 million in funding for the research and development of innovative technologies for low-impact hydropower systems. This funding will help advance hydropower drivetrains, which transfer rotational energy from turbines to generators, and structural foundations that will minimize environmental impacts and reduce the lifetime costs associated with operating and maintaining new hydropower projects.

While hydropower already supplies roughly 7% of America’s electricity and is the leading source of renewable power, the nation still has significant untapped resources across the country where new hydropower generating capabilities could boost our supply of carbon-free energy. Recent Energy Department reports show that the United States has an additional 65 gigawatts of hydropower potential in undeveloped rivers and streams and more than 12 gigawatts of hydropower potential—if fully developed—at our nation’s non-powered dams. New and advanced hydropower technologies will help harness these major opportunities for clean, renewable energy that can help address climate change.

While this funding opportunity supports a wide variety of technological innovations for new hydropower development, specific areas of interest include:

  • New, rapidly deployable and removable hydropower technologies, such as innovative prefabricated structures, water impoundment structures, and water conveyance systems.
  • Innovative methods and materials for the construction of hydropower facilities.
  • Innovative hydropower powertrain and generator components, such as advanced composite materials and replaceable turbine blade technologies.

This effort to develop advanced water power technologies is part of the Energy Department's broader Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative, which aims to increase American competitiveness in the production of clean energy products and boost U.S. manufacturing competitiveness across the board by increasing energy productivity. Continued innovation and advancements in hydropower technologies and manufacturing will help deliver more renewable energy to American homes and businesses than ever before.

Read the full funding opportunity announcement on the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Funding Opportunity Exchange.

The Energy Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy accelerates development and deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality. Learn more about the Water Power Program’s research and development efforts to advance hydropower manufacturing. To learn more about how hydropower captures energy from flowing water, watch this Energy 101 video.