Research group seeks industry funding for advanced turbine

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) is seeking $500,000 in funding from the hydroelectric industry to help complete development, deployment, and testing of the Alden/Concepts NREC advanced design hydropower turbine.

In a Nov. 14 Internet webcast on advanced hydro turbine research and development, EPRI’s Douglas Dixon told participants the research institute seeks supporters who will commit to provide $50,000 a year, ideally for two consecutive years. (HNN 8/11/06)

EPRI hopes that such a demonstration of industry support for the collaborative effort will encourage Congress to re-establish federal funding for hydropower research.

Companies that fund any EPRI environment program can take advantage of tailored collaboration funds for up to half of their contribution. That means the participant would provide a minimum of $25,000, with $25,000 matched by EPRI.

Dixon, senior project manager in the Water and Ecosystems Area of EPRI’s Environment Sector, said hydro turbine research has resulted in major technology accomplishments, but work remains to be completed. He noted a turbine developed by Voith Siemens Hydro Power Generation displayed a 14 percent improvement in efficiency and high fish survival at Grant County Public Utility District’s 1,038-MW Wanapum Dam, part of the 1,893-MW Priest Rapids project (No. 2114) on the Columbia River in Washington. (HNN 8/18/06)

The ultimate goal of EPRI’s advanced turbine research project is to develop turbines that are greater than 90 percent efficient and reduce fish mortality to 5 percent or less.

Refinement of the Alden Research Laboratory and Concepts NREC turbine is taking place through four tasks to be completed in 2007. The first task, currently under way, involves redesigning the scroll case, stay vanes, and wicket gates to double flow to the runner.

Remaining tasks, to be funded by industry collaborators, include computational fluid dynamics modeling of the runner to improve leading edge blade thickness and shape, and CFD simulation of the entire turbine to obtain favorable flow patterns and establish the best efficiency point. The final task is field deployment and testing at Brookfield Power New York’s 38.8-MW School Street project (No. 2539) on New York’s Mohawk River. (HNN 11/23/05)

Dixon said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation have agreed to consider allowing fish to pass through turbines if high survival can be attained.

Senate’s $4 million in funding awaits final action

In June, the Senate Appropriations Committee endorsed $4 million to revive the Department of Energy’s zero-funded hydropower research and development program. (HNN 6/29/06) Funding for the program was not included in the Bush administration’s proposed budget for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, 2006.

The Senate panel added the hydro R&D money to a House-passed $30.7 billion energy and water development appropriations bill. The full committee approved the bill two days after its Energy and Water subcommittee passed the measure. However, the bill remains on the Senate floor awaiting action before adjournment at the end of the year.

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