Senate subcommittee endorses $4 million for hydro R&D

In an unexpected move, a Senate subcommittee has endorsed $4 million to revive the Department of Energy’s zero-funded hydropower research and development program.

The hydro R&D money is included in a $30.7 billion energy appropriations bill, which was approved June 27 by the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee and sent to the full Senate Energy Committee for further consideration.

The Bush administration’s budget for the coming fiscal year includes nothing for DOE’s hydropower R&D program. The previous budget, for the year ending Sept. 30, included $495,000 to dismantle the advanced hydropower turbine R&D program and to turn such work over to private industry.

Energy Committee Chairman Pete Domenici, R-N.M., said the newly endorsed fiscal 2007 spending bill would provide $380 million for energy-related activities authorized by the Energy Policy Act of 2005. It includes $4 million for advanced hydropower, $148 million for solar, $213 million for biomass, restoration of $22.5 million for geothermal R&D, and $95.3 million for building technology.

The hydropower allotment would support goals of Section 931 of the Energy Policy Act, which requires DOE to conduct a program of research, development, demonstration, and commercial application for cost competitive technologies that enable development of new and incremental hydropower capacity. Technologies include fish-friendly large turbines, and advanced technologies to enhance environmental performance and yield greater energy efficiencies.

Section 931 also requires DOE to conduct R&D, demonstration, and commercial application programs for ocean energy, including wave energy and kinetic hydro turbines.

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