R&D Forum

Study predicts mixed bag of water availability on Pacific Coast

A precipitation analysis conducted by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) could have mixed meanings for hydroelectric power operators and providers along America’s Pacific coast.

Using studies conducted by the Northwest River Forecast Center (NWRFC) and California Department of Water Resources (DWR), EIA said the water resources available for hydropower generation in California could be significantly higher in recent years, while resources in the Pacific Northwest are projected to be normal to below normal through September.

According to DWR, snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountain range through the current water year (which ends Sept. 30) is at 94% of normal, with precipitation in December being twice the average. This represents a “significant departure from the prior year,” EIA said, which was “significantly below normal.”

EIA notes that California’s hydro projects usually contribute 11% to 28% – record lows and highs achieved in 1992 and 1995, respectively – of the state’s power supply, with production peaking in the spring and early summer when melting snow starts flowing through river basins.

Meanwhile, NWRFC reported that its water projects for April to September – typically the high hydro season – call for a normal to below-normal supply. NWRFC made its forecast by examining precipitation in a given period, snowpack held through a watershed, and subsequent runoff of snow melting in the watershed.

Overall, NWRFC said precipitation in October 2012 was 189% of normal but was countered by a January that was 66% of normal. Additionally, temperatures were too high in October for the extra precipitation to build snowpack, meaning current snowpack levels are only about average at most measuring stations.

EPRI releases report on fish survival after screen impingement

A new report, Post-Impingement Survival of Juvenile and Adult Fish with a Geiger Multi-Disc Screen: Laboratory Evaluations, is available from EPRI.

This report presents the results of a laboratory study evaluating the survival, injury and scale loss of fish exposed to the Passavant-Geiger Multi-Disc screen. EPRI says the data presented provide a basis upon which to estimate the potential for these screens to meet the proposed Environmental Protection Agency Clean Water Act Existing Facilities Rule as it relates to impingement mortality.

This rule, to be finalized in June 2013, includes modified traveling band screens as one option for meeting the impingement mortality reduction standard under the streamlined compliance approach. However, the extent to which new traveling screen designs will be included in the streamlined approach is not known. A laboratory evaluation was considered to be the only approach that could develop a substantial quantity of new data to assess the screen’s performance compared with modified traveling band screens.

A Geiger screen was installed in a hydraulic test flume and six species of juvenile and adult fish of varying lengths were exposed to the impingement and collection process and then evaluated for survival, injury and scale loss. Two mesh types were used: 2-mm stainless steel and 9.5-mm drilled plastic. A total of 105 treatment and control replicates involving more than 24,600 fish were tested over 31 days. Median unadjusted survival rate for all species and velocities was 95.7%.

Data in the report can be used to inform the EPA rulemaking process, EPRI says.

– For more on this report, visit www.epri.com/abstracts/Pages/ProductAbstract.aspx?ProductId=000000003002000180.

BPA analyzing research proposals to improve Northwest system

The Bonneville Power Administration‘s Technology Innovation Office is analyzing proposals collected for energy research to develop technologies to improve operation of the hydroelectric system in the Pacific Northwest.

Since 2005, the Technology Innovation Office has funded projects to create a more efficient Northwest power system, with a recent focus on hydropower, energy efficiency, physical security and transmission services.

BPA’s research portfolio for fiscal year 2014 focuses on investing in projects that advance transmission power flow controls, synchrophasor data intelligence, climate change streamflow models, energy efficiency and demand response.

BPA expects to fund about $3.5 million of new research in the coming year at $50,000 to $500,000 per project, on a cost reimbursement basis.

More information is available at www.bpa.gov/Doing%20Business/TechnologyInnovation/Pages/default.aspx.

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R&D Forum

EPRI reports hydro could provide 3% of U.S. annual demand

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) has determined that undeveloped hydrokinetic energy in U.S. rivers could provide 3% of the nation’s annual demand for electricity. EPRI made the determination after a mapping and assessment of hydrokinetic resources in rivers of the continental U.S.

The assessment, which analyzed 71,398 river segments across the 48 contiguous states and additional segments in Alaska, yielded a total theoretical resource estimate of 1,381 TWh/yr, which is 25% of annual U.S. electricity consumption. That number was adjusted to a technically recoverable estimate because of constraints to developing the resource, EPRI waterpower research project manager Paul Jacobson said.

The technically recoverable resource estimate for the continental U.S. is 120 TWh/yr, about 3% of annual U.S. electricity consumption. The amount of that which is practically recoverable would be lower than 3%.

“The assessment shows that hydrokinetic generation could be an important renewable energy option for the United States,” Jacobson said.

The Lower Mississippi region would contribute almost half of the technically recoverable resource estimate. Alaska would provide 17.1%, the Pacific Northwest region 9.2%, and the Ohio region 5.7%. Those four regions comprise about 80% of the technically recoverable hydrokinetic resources in the continental U.S.

Normandeau Associates to research fish at eight plants

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a US$3.1 million contract to Normandeau Associates Inc. to perform fish counting services at eight federal hydropower project along the Columbia and Snake rivers.

Normandeau is to count adult fish passing through ladders at the 1,076.6-MW Bonneville, 1,780-MW Dalles, 2,160-MW John Day, 980-MW McNary, 603-MW Ice Harbor, 810-MW Lower Monumental, 810-MW Little Goose, and 810-MW Lower Granite facilities.

Fish counting is to produce technical information to help the Corps make engineering and operational decisions to provide safe, efficient fish passage. Various groups and agencies also use fish counts for research in the basins.

Geophysical surveying being performed at Isabella Dam

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to perform geophysical surveying of Isabella Dam on California’s Kern River. Built in 1953 as a flood control and water conservation structure, Isabella Dam is being studied for remedial actions to prevent possible failure during earthquakes.

Isabella Dam is the site of the 11.95-MW Isabella project.

Geophysical surveying worked to be performed on the dam will focus on data collection below the realignment of the auxiliary dam and characterization of the bedrock around a proposed cut for the Borel canal realignment and spillway.

Hydro-Quebec seeks partners to test SCOMPI robot

Hydro-Quebec is working to develop partnering arrangements to provide hydropower equipment manufacturing and refurbishment services using Hydro-Quebec’s SCOMPI robot technology.

The SCOMPI robot was developed by the Hydro-Quebec Research Institute (IREQ) in a program to fight cavitation, which damages the steel surface of turbines and requires costly repairs. IREQ conducts research projects to extend service life of facilities, boost performance, optimize maintenance, support energy efficiency and improve customer service.

Since the first model of the robot was developed in 1991, the utility has used four generations of SCOMPI to perform more than 40 major jobs. The robot can be used for repairing cracks and cavitation damage, reinforcing runners, preventive build-up welding, reshaping runner blades, refurbishing powerhouse and spillway head gates, and manufacturing turbine runners.

Corps to monitor dissolved gas, temperature at three projects

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to perform total dissolved gas (TDG) and temperature monitoring at three projects in the Columbia River Basin: 2,457.3-MW Chief Joseph on the in Washington, 525-MW Libby in Montana and 42.6-MW Albeni Falls in Idaho.

The Corps is monitoring these parameters to better understand and manage flow and spill at these dams. Work will involve calibration and maintenance of TDG and temperature probes, as well as a special temperature study at Albeni Falls Dam.