Fish Passage Assessment of an Advanced Hydropower Turbine and Conventional Turbine Using Blade-Strike Modeling
design, fish passage, fish population, fish survival, hydroelectric, Hydropower, injuries, models, protection, relicensing, runner blades, salmon, Snake River, steelhead, survival, survival study, turbines
Hydropower is the largest renewable energy source in the world. However, in the Columbia and Snake River basins, several species of Pacific salmon and steelhead have been listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act due to significant declines of fish population. Dam operators and design engineers are thus faced with the task of making hydroelectric facilities more fish friendly through changes in hydro-turbine design and operation. Public Utility District No. 2 of Grant County, Washington, applied for relicensing from the U. S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to replace the 10 turbines at Wanapum Dam with advanced hydropower turbines that were designed to increase power generation and improve fish passage conditions. We applied both deterministic and stochastic blade-strike models to compare fish passage performance of the newly installed advanced turbine to an existing turbine. Modeled probabilities were compared to the results of a large-scale live-fish survival study and a Sensor Fish study under the same operational parameters. Overall, injury rates predicted by the deterministic model were higher than experimental rates of injury, while those predicted by the stochastic model were in close agreement with experimental results. Fish orientation at the time of entry into the plane of the leading edges of the turbine runner blades was an important factor contributing to uncertainty in modeled results. The advanced design turbine had slightly higher modeled injury rates than the existing turbine design; however, no statistical evidence suggested significant differences in blade-strike injuries between the two turbines, thus the hypothesis that direct fish survival rate through the advanced hydropower turbine is equal to or higher than that for fish passing through the conventional turbine could not be rejected.
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