Biden-Harris Administration Commits Over $13 Million to Accelerate Hydropower Expansion

United States, (Natural Energy News): In a significant step towards boosting renewable energy, the US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced a substantial investment of over $13 million in seven research and development projects. These projects are geared towards advancing hydropower as a crucial source of clean energy and align with President Biden's "Investing in America" agenda. This funding, made possible by the President's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, aims to propel innovations in power generation at non-powered dams while fostering the growth of pumped storage hydropower (PSH) technologies.

Natural Energy News, Biden-Harris Administration Commits Over $13 Million to Accelerate Hydropower Expansion

US Secretary of Energy, Jennifer M. Granholm, emphasized the importance of hydropower, stating, "For more than a century, Americans have harnessed the power of water to electrify our communities, and it’s a critical renewable energy source that will help us reach our climate goals. President Biden’s Investing in America agenda will help to expand the use of hydropower, increasing access to affordable, clean power and creating good-paying jobs."

This funding will facilitate research and development initiatives led by organizations dedicated to enhancing the affordability, environmental sustainability, and deployability of hydropower technologies for non-powered dams and PSH. Despite the existence of over 90,000 dams in the US, less than 3% currently generate power, serving various purposes such as flood control, irrigation, water storage, and recreation. However, these dams possess the potential to contribute thousands of megawatts of clean energy to the national grid. In the realm of utility-scale energy storage, PSH already accounts for 93%, making it a crucial tool for balancing an increasingly diverse grid that includes wind and solar energy sources.

The seven selected projects have been designed to achieve specific objectives:

Retrofitting Non-Powered Dams with Sustainable Infrastructure
Low-Impact Hydropower Assessment (Keokuk, Iowa): The Electric Power Research Institute will assess two models of the Amjet Turbine System, designed to add power-generating infrastructure to non-powered dams. The Keokuk Energy Center will serve as the testing ground. (Award amount: $2,306,949)

Spillway Turbine (Pasco, Washington): Emrgy will develop a turbine for generating hydropower at non-powered dams with water drops less than 30 feet, or in low-flow conduits like existing irrigation canals. The South Columbia Basin will host the technology's demonstration. (Award amount: $1,600,308)

Advancing and Developing Technologies for Pumped Storage Hydropower
Accelerating the Deployment of PSH Through the Fast Conversion of Existing Conventional Hydropower (Salem, Alabama): Georgia Power Co. will expedite the development and deployment of PSH facilities across the United States by retrofitting conventional hydropower facilities. The Bartlett’s Ferry Hydropower Facility in Salem, Alabama, will serve as the testing ground. (Award amount: $2,880,191)

Low-Cost, 3D Concrete Printed, Modular, Marine Pumped Hydroelectric Storage System (San Pedro, California): RCAM Technologies will advance the Marine Pumped Hydroelectric (MPH) Storage System by funding its design, fabrication, and deepwater ocean testing off the Port of Los Angeles. MPH stores pressurized seawater in concrete spheres on the sea floor to generate electricity. (Award amount: $4,000,000)

Energy Storage Systems for Overpressure Environments (East Texas): Quidnet Energy Inc. will demonstrate a novel PSH technology that stores pressurized water underground, repurposing legacy oil and gas assets for low-cost, long-duration electricity storage. (Award amount: $2,084,165)

Promoting Hydropower Research and Development by Emerging Organizations
Novel Approach to Deploying Low-Head Turbines at Drops and Diversions (Sagle, Idaho): Drops for Watts will develop a low-impact, modular system to generate hydropower from existing irrigation infrastructure with minimal impact and no additional excavation. (Award amount: $243,540)

Deployment of Digital Twins and Advanced Instrumentation (Atlanta, Georgia): Turbine Logic will employ digital twin technology to predict maintenance needs in hydropower turbines accurately, enhancing monitoring and facility reliability. (Award amount: $199,435)

These projects were selected as part of the Water Power Technologies Office’s "Innovative Technologies to Enable Low-Impact Hydropower and Pumped Storage Hydropower Growth" funding opportunity. While selection for award negotiations is not a guarantee of funding, this initiative reflects the commitment of the DOE and the Biden-Harris administration to advance clean energy solutions and drive economic growth.

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