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DOE’s WPTO announces initiative to support hydropower decision-making

Hoover Dam

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) has announced a Notice of Opportunity for Technical Assistance (NOTA) for Improving Hydropower’s Value Through Informed Decision-Making. This opportunity will provide hydropower decision makers — such as utilities and system operators — with national lab expertise and capabilities to address current challenges and capture new opportunities for their systems.

Additionally, the work can validate national lab-led modeling, analysis and tools developed under the HydroWIRES Initiative for the benefit of the broader hydropower community, as well as further understanding of possible roles for hydropower in an evolving grid.

In April 2019, WPTO launched HydroWIRES (Hydropower and Water Innovation for a Resilient Electricity System), an initiative to better understand, enable and improve hydropower and pumped storage hydropower’s (PSH) contributions to the reliability, resilience and integration in the U.S. electricity system. 

“By working directly with industry and applying the world-class expertise and capabilities of our National Labs to real-world challenges, we’re able to demonstrate and validate decision-making tools and methodologies that will help the broader hydropower industry,” said Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Daniel R Simmons.

Topic areas for technical assistance include:

  1. Participation in Energy Imbalance Markets provides the selected entity with analytical support to assess the potential benefits of joining an energy imbalance market based on location, supply and demand resources, transmission system infrastructure, and scheduling/dispatch practices.
  2. Value of Inflow Forecasting Tools and Practices supports a hydropower operator to evaluate the latest forecast tools and explore risk-based decision making to enhance hydropower value for electricity markets, price forecasts, and resource scheduling.
  3. Hydropower in Integrated Resource Planning supports the selected entity in improving the tools and capabilities for representing and evaluating hydropower and pumped storage in integrated resource plans.
  4. Optimization of Hybrid Hydropower and Storage Systems supports a hydropower asset owner in evaluating the costs and benefits of adding energy storage systems to a hydropower plant or plants, including evaluation of financial performance and energy storage size selection.
  5. Open Topic allows applicants to request assistance with other decision-making questions regarding hydropower’s role in the evolving grid.

Partnerships between the national labs and industry on these NOTA topic areas can help stakeholders better understand how to develop solutions to industry challenges, including addressing key barriers to hydropower decision making and planning, DOE said.

Interested applicants must submit initial concept papers by December 18, 2020. Full applications will be due January 29, 2021.