NYPA receives grant to study the impact of ice on hydropower


The New York Power Authority (NYPA) has been awarded two grants to fund demonstration projects — one that will analyze the impact of ice on a hydropower plant and one to test a technology that evaluates the health of high-voltage assets in a substation.

The two $125,000 grants come from the American Public Power Association’s Demonstration of Energy & Efficiency Developments (DEED) program, which funds research, pilot projects and education to improve the operations and services of public power utilities.

“The APPA recognizes the importance of these forward-thinking projects that will improve generation and transmission operations and allow data to be shared with other utilities seeking best practices,” said Alan Ettlinger, senior director of research, technology development and innovation with NYPA. “Innovative energy solutions are key to maintaining a responsible supply of affordable, clean and reliable electricity.”

For hydropower, NYPA will undertake a project called Analyze the Impact of Ice on Hydro Power Resources with Machine Learning. NYPA has experienced significant power generation losses due to ice blockages near intake valves in the Niagara River and has worked to address the issue with industry groups and other utilities. During the winter, water can become supercooled all the way to the bottom of the river, leading to the formation of frazil ice crystals, anchor ice or both. Anchor and frazil ice affects the water availability estimation by the Niagara River Control Center, and frazil ice can affect hydropower plant operation because it is “sticky” and can result in ice formation on the plant’s turbines. These studies will include using 3D sonar to quantify the impact of frazil ice on the efficiency of the hydropower units and forecasting the formation of anchor and frazil ice, with a look ahead of a few days to a few weeks.

The second project is called Smart Insulation Condition Monitoring System (CMS) for Substation Assets. A condition monitoring system will be developed to constantly monitor the insulation condition of various high-voltage assets (transformers, GIS, switchgears and cables) in a substation.

The projects are expected to last two years, and NYPA expects to release study results by spring 2023.

NYPA is the largest state public power organization in the U.S., operating 16 generating facilities and more than 1,400 circuit-miles of transmission lines. More than 80% of the electricity NYPA produces is clean renewable hydropower.

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