Funding from the U.S. Department of Energy Water Power Technologies Office’s HydroNEXT program us providing $2.4 million in funding for four projects that will develop and test upstream and downstream fish passage solutions for hydroelectric facilities.
The effort specifically seeks to reduce construction and operating costs associated with fish passage technologies in an effort to “assist hydropower owners and operators in meeting rigorous environmental permitting requirements and bring more hydropower online faster.”
Recipients of the WPTO funding include:
- Alden Research Laboratory, Inc. (Holden, Mass.) — Alden will evaluate a pair of modular and scalable bypass systems for transporting migrant eels downstream in a biologically effective manner. Alden will first test the effects of these systems on American eel at its research facility, then at the 3-MW Mine Falls project in Nashua, N.H.
- Black Bear Hydro Partners, LLC (Milford, Maine) — Black Bear Hydro Partners, a subsidiary of Brookfield Renewable, will evaluate the performance of the Whooshh Fish Transports System at the 8-MW Milford hydro plant. Whooshh uses lengths of flexible tube and water pressure to gently propel fish past obstacles. The system will be installed next to an existing fish ladder and used to collect Atlantic salmon broodstock on the Penobscot River.
- The University of Massachusetts Amherst (Hadley, Mass.) — UMass will evaluate the performance of a fishway entrance and auxiliary water system known as the “Entrance Palisade” in a semi-controlled environment. DOE said this design represents a “fundamental shift” in how water is delivered for fish passage and could drastically reduce construction costs. The Entrance Palisade will be evaluated for its impact on fish passage efficiency, rates and behavior.
- The Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. (Knoxville, Tenn.) — EPRI will develop and demonstrate machine learning techniques with software tools that automate the detection of adult American eel using multi-beam, imaging sonar data. This has the potential to improve eel monitoring while also reducing costs of compliance by reducing data storage requirements and the amount of skilled labor required to analyze data.
“Early-stage investments in fish passage solutions are needed to reduce the costs and environmental impacts of new projects,” said WPTO Director Alejandro Moreno. “Enabling industry to develop novel technologies that can improve the environmental performance at hydropower facilities ensures that the nation’s hydropower fleet continues to generate clean electricity and provide essential reliability services for the nation’s grid.”
The awards are a response to DOE’s September 2017 call for participation in its “Innovative Solutions for Fish Passage at Hydropower Dams.”
HydroNEXT is an ongoing DOE program that has already made signifiant monetary contributions toward the development of technologies associated with America’s small, pumped-storage and marine energy sectors.