DOE Hydropower Program: Annual Report for FY 2002

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) conducts research on advanced hydropower technology through its hydropower program, which is organized under the Office of Wind and Hydropower Technologies within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. This annual report describes the various projects supported by the hydropower program in FY 2002. The program's current focus is on improving the environmental performance of hydropower projects by addressing problems such as fish mortality during passage through turbines, alteration of instream habitat, and water quality in tailwaters. A primary goal of this research is to develop new, environmentally friendly technology. DOE-funded projects have produced new conceptual designs for turbine systems, and these are now being tested in pilot-scale laboratory tests and in the field. New design approaches range from totally new turbines runners to modifications of existing designs. Biological design criteria for these new turbines have also been developed in controlled laboratory tests of fish response to physical stresses, such as hydraulic shear and pressure changes. These biocriteria are being combined with computational tools to locate and eliminate areas inside turbine systems that are damaging to fish. Through the combination of laboratory, field, and computational studies, new solutions are being found to environmental problems at hydropower projects. The diverse program activities continue to make unique contributions to clean energy production in the U.S. By working toward technology improvements that can reduce environmental problems, the program is helping to reposition hydropower as an acceptable, renewable, domestic energy choice. The key successes in FY 2002 were: (1) Biological and engineering tests at the pilot-scale test facility at Alden Research Laboratory, to evaluate the environmental and engineering performance of the new Alden/Concepts NERC runner (Hecker et. al. 2001). (2) Publication of new biological response studies of the effects of pressure and dissolved gas supersaturation on fish passing through hydropower turbines (Abernethy et. al. 2001, 2002). (3) Deployment of the phase II sensor device at Columbia River dams to evaluate hydraulic forces present in spillways and a high-volume outfall. (4) Collaboration with industry and other federal agencies in two successful workshops to identify future R&D needs for hydropower. (5) Establishment of financial assistance agreements for field testing of large turbines (Box Canyon Project, Osage Project, and Wanapum Project). (6) Development of a methodology for low head/low power hydropower resource assessment and completion of two hydrologic regions.
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