Hydropower Innovation Gets Federal Dollars

This time last year the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) signed a “memorandum of understanding” regarding hydropower, claiming their intention to support advancement in what they said was an overlooked area of renewable energy. Now, the DOE and DOI have followed up with a big round of funding aimed at hydropower. The DOE said it has $26.6 million in funding to support projects that will develop new hydropower technologies, including pumped storage hydropower, and address environmental issues with conventional hydropower.


Image via MT.gov

The funding will be broken up according to four specific projects that the DOE says are aimed toward increasing reliable hydropower for the nation’s electricity needs:

  • $10.5 million over 3 years for projects focused on sustainable small hydropower. The DOE says these projects will research, develop, and test low head small hydropower technologies that can be quickly and efficiently deployed in existing or newly constructed waterways..
  • $2.25 million awarded over 3 years will be invested in technologies that will mitigate the environmental impacts of conventional hydropower. These projects will increase electricity production while the reducing the impact to fish and habitats and enhancing downstream water quality.
  • $11.875 million spread over 4 years will be provided to accelerate pumped storage hydropower projects that the DOE says are already in the pipeline.The DOE indicated a preference for projects that would start construction by 2014 and integrate wind and/or solar power.
  • $2.0 million over 3 years will be awarded to projects that test “innovative, low-head hydropower technologies” at non-powered hydro facilities and sites owned by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation. Here, the Bureau and the DOE are looking for tests that produce energy cost reductions that could be replicated at other Bureau of Reclamation sites.

Funds will be awarded to applicants based on the metrics and guidelines that are published in their applications. Mandatory letters of intent are due May 5, 2011, and completed applications are due June 6, 2011.

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