Natel Energy commissions 1-MW Monroe Hydro Project in Oregon

Natel Energy announces the completion of the 1-MW Monroe Hydro Project in Madras, Ore.

Natel Energy installed its 1-MW class D190 Restoration Hydro Turbine (RHT) at the site, which uses an existing irrigation canal and the fish-safe turbine technology to generate reliable, renewable energy.

Grant funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) supported development of the RHT.

The RHT is a compact propeller-style turbine with specially designed blades that allow large fish to pass safely. In September 2020, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) conducted turbine passage tests that revealed a 100% survival rate for rainbow trout up to 400 mm (15 inches) long passing downstream through the 1.9-m-diameter D190 RHT. Over the course of testing, the gross head at the site was about 5.2 m, and the turbine produced about 300 kW electrical output. With the support of the WPTO, PNNL scientists and engineers used Sensor Fish, RFID tag, radio tag, and balloon tag technologies to assess physical turbine stressors and enable recovery of all fish after their passage through the turbine. Each fish was carefully inspected, and no evidence of passage-related injuries was observed.

The RHT is the most compact turbine that has demonstrated this successful survival rate for large fish, Natel Energy said. The RHT requires no fine fish screens and minimizes the need for excavation and installation materials, reducing the overall cost to install. In addition, the RHT features a variable-speed direct-drive permanent magnet generator, delivering high efficiency across a wide range of flow rates on a simple and reliable powertrain.

“We are thrilled with the successful completion of the Monroe Hydro Project, marking our second commercial installation of Restoration Hydro Turbines,” said Gia Schneider, chief executive officer of Natel Energy. “Ensuring successful fish passage is a fundamental challenge for hydropower developers and operators, and the results of this testing are groundbreaking for low-head deployment. The 100% safe fish passage results achieved in the testing by PNNL marks a new milestone that solidifies the RHT as delivering fish safety without compromising on energy output.”

The RHT is suitable for upgrading or repowering existing small hydro plants with modern, fish safe turbines; for adding new generation to existing non-powered dams; and for new hydro development. Natel’s Restoration Hydro approach combines best practices from stream restoration, whitewater recreation, and even dam removals with modern low-head hydropower technology. In addition to producing reliable, renewable energy, Natel Energy’s Restoration Hydro projects generate multiple environmental co-benefits that may include habitat creation, improved water quality, and sustained increases in groundwater and aquifer recharge rates.

Natel Energy is a California-based company with a mission to mitigate climate change and build climate resilience by providing hardware and software solutions that enable a 100% renewable grid via a hydropower backbone.

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