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Oregon, Washington Projects Receive Federal Funds To Advance Hydropower Technology
Posted on Friday, September 09, 2011 (PST)

Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu and U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar this week announced 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. The funding will help advance the Obama Administration's goal of meeting 80 percent of our electricity needs from clean energy sources by 2035.


In Oregon, Earth by Design of Bend will receive $1.5 million from the Department of Energy to develop and test a new low-head modular hydropower technology in a canal in the North Unit Irrigation District to produce cost-competitive electricity.


The Departments of Energy and the Interior are co-funding California-based Natel Energy with $746,000 to deploy and test a scaled-up version of the modular Schneider Linear hydroEngine at a Bureau of Reclamation facility in Madras, Oregon, validating the commercial performance and economic feasibility of the device in a low-head constructed waterway.


Kennewick, Wash.-based Percheron Power will receive $1.5 million jointly funded by the Departments of Energy and the Interior to install the nation's first Archimedes Hydrodynamic Screw hydropower system in Potholes East Canal. The system may eventually be deployed at low-head sites throughout the Columbia Basin Project and in other man-made waterways.


Also, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., will be awarded nearly $300,000 from the Department of Energy to re-design the Sensor Fish, a data collection device that measures movement, acceleration, rotation, and pressure changes on the device as it passes through a hydropower turbine, providing more information on the forces that a fish may encounter. The new Sensor Fish device, which is expected to be smaller and cheaper than previous devices, could be deployed through a wide range of model and prototype turbine testing, allowing for improved designs safer for fish passage.


These projects, say the agencies, “will advance sustainable renewable energy generation from small (less than 30 megawatts) hydropower resources, spur deployment of pumped storage hydropower, enhance environmental performance of hydropower, and test innovative, cost-effective technologies for hydropower development at low-head (less than a 30 foot drop) sites such as irrigation canals and non-powered dams.”


"By improving and deploying advanced hydropower technologies, we can maximize our use of this proven clean energy resource, create jobs, and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels," said Chu. "Hydropower can be used to store energy to help utilities better integrate other sources of renewable energy like wind and solar into the grid, improving our energy security and diversifying our clean energy resources."


Read the full list of award winners.

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