DOE’s WPTO announces $16 million for new HydroWIRES projects led by national labs

Department of Energy

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, on behalf of the Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO), has announced nine new national lab-directed projects to advance the HydroWIRES (Water Innovation for a Resilient Electricity System) Initiative. HydroWIRES aims to maximize hydropower’s contributions to a decarbonized, reliable and resilient grid.

The selected projects will create tools and products to support the industry’s decision-making abilities. These projects will enable the U.S. hydropower community to more accurately model future water availability, evaluate opportunities for adding hydropower to non-powered dams and understand how to operate hydropower to mitigate wildfires’ impacts to the power grid.

WPTO will award a total of $16 million across nine projects involving five national laboratories: Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), Idaho National Laboratory (INL), National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). The nine awarded projects are described below under the relevant topic areas:

Topic 1: Lowering Barriers to Deployment of Hydropower Hybrids

Hydro+Storage: Accelerating Industry Deployment of Hydropower Hybrids (Lead Lab INL)

This project seeks to develop tools and tactics that will advise current and future hydropower hybridization efforts.

Topic 2: Developing Tools to Evaluate Environment-Flexibility Tradeoffs

Energy Flexibility-Environmental Tradeoff Tool (Lead Lab ORNL)

This project will build on previous research led by the labs to understand the flexibility and environmental tradeoffs involved in hydropower operation.

Topic 3: Improving Hydropower Representation in Power System Models

A Framework for Addressing Hydropower Modeling Gaps in Grid Planning and Operation Studies (Lead Lab PNNL)

This project will provide a critical update to dynamic models of hydropower generators that were developed in the 1960s and 1970s.

Topic 4: Modelling Collaborations with Norway

Electricity Market Design in Zero Marginal Cost Systems–Experiences and Insights for Hydropower in the United States and Norway (Lead Lab ANL)

The overall goal of this project is to provide insights to market design changes that will smoothen the transition to a decarbonized power system.

Grid and Market Integration of Hydropower and Wind Energy: Challenges and Opportunities (Lead Lab ANL)

This project seeks to build an archive of case studies documenting the co-existence of hydropower and wind turbines across the U.S. and Norway, while also investigating challenges and opportunities for hydropower resources as wind penetration increases.

Topic 5: Open Topic

Real Time Inertia Monitor Based on Pumped Hydro Operation Signatures (Lead Lab ORNL)

This project seeks to develop a real-time, low-cost, accurate inertia monitoring system for pumped storage hydropower plants.

Emulating Hydropower in a Controlled Real-world Environment at ARIES for Rapid Prototyping of Next-generation Hydro-controls (Lead Lab NREL)

This project aims to solve the industry problem of risky, expensive, and time-consuming field validation of new hydropower governor controls by developing a controlled lab environment for evaluation.

Evaluating Options for Non-Powered Dams to Provide Grid, Community, Industry, and Environmental Benefits (Lead Lab INL)

This project aims to create a ranking framework that weighs various hydropower and energy storage options for non-powered dams.

Hydro-Based Microgrids to Support Grid Resiliency during Wildfires (Lead Lab PNNL)

As wildfires are becoming more severe and commonplace in the U.S., researchers are evaluating how to mitigate the impacts from west coast wildfires on the grid since power is often critical for life-saving services.

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Elizabeth Ingram is content director for the Hydro Review website and HYDROVISION International. She has more than 17 years of experience with the hydroelectric power industry. Follow her on Twitter @ElizabethIngra4 .

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