DOE Hydropower Program: Engineering Research and Development 1977-1991: Summary Report


J R. Chappell

Publication Date



U.S. Department of Energy Idaho Field Office

Report number


Publication place

Springfield, VA


National Technical Information Service


The Engineering Research and Development Program was a part of the DOE Small-Scale Hydropower Program. The Small-Scale Hydropower Program was established in 1977 (a) to provide appropriate assistance to private and public sectors, and (b) to accelerate the development of hydroelectric power at existing dams amenable to the retrofitting or adding of hydroelectric equipment. The purpose of the Engineering Research and Development program was to promote, encourage, and support the development of hydropower. DOE provided funds to develop new technologies and adapt novel applications of existing related technologies to the hydropower field. The general goal of the program was to support the research of technology that would improve small hydropower. However, since much of the small hydropower potential was either marginally economical or uneconomical to develop, the primary emphasis was on the lowering of equipment costs or the costs of implementing the equipment. During the 15 year duration of the program about $5 million was spent on 34 projects with a wide variety of objectives. As with many research and development (R&D) programs the results of the small hydropower R&D program did not meet all of the initial goals. However, lessons were learned and some successes were achieved. This report summarizes the lessons learned as well as some of the successes and failures of the individual projects. The purpose of this report is to document not only the successful projects that were explored but also to delineate the deficiencies of the projects that were not found to be viable for the intended application to hydropower. Some of the concepts explored were found to be more suitable to other applications than the proposed use for hydropower at the time the project was investigated. As a result, the few concepts explored were found to be commercially viable and were continued in the private sector.

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