Tech Briefs

Self-powered fish tracking tag under development

A new self-charging tracking tag will allow scientists to study the movements of fish throughout their entire lives.

The tag, developed by scientists at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, uses a flexible strip containing piezoelectric materials, which generate electricity through physical movement. The tags emit beeps that are recorded by underwater receivers and are designed to track many different species of fish, including long-living fish such as sturgeon and migratory species such as eel. The tag is designed to work as long as the fish carrying it swims.

Development of this self-powered tag is the latest upgrade to the Juvenile Salmon Acoustic Telemetry System, which PNNL has continuously developed since 2001 to evaluate how fish move near hydroelectric dams and other water structures. The previous version of the tag relied on a battery that typically lasted 100 days.

The self-powered tag comes in two sizes: 100 mm (1.05 g) and 77 mm (0.8 g). The tag is inserted just under the skin near the rear dorsal fins of the fish.

The tag has been tested with a robotic fish tail and in two live fish. PNNL will test the tag outside the lab in 2017, using tagged white sturgeon along the Columbia and Snake rivers in Washington. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Technology Transitions, in collaboration with industry partners, is supporting the field research. Initial development of the tag was supported with internal PNNL funding and by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy.

Future development could include determining the tag’s optimal placement inside different fish species, which sizes of fish could be implanted, and how the tag operates under high pressures.

REN21 annual report provides key findings about hydropower in 2015

REN21, the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century, has released its Renewables 2016 Global Status Report, with several key findings related to hydropower in 2015:

  • Renewable energy employment (not including large hydropower) grew to 8.1 million jobs (direct and indirect). Small hydro is responsible for about 204,000 direct and indirect jobs worldwide.
  • Large hydropower accounted for an additional 1.3 million direct jobs.
  • Hydropower provided about 16.6% of all global electricity.
  • Hydropower capacity was 1,064 GW, compared with 1,036 GW in 2014. It is estimated that global hydropower generation rose to about 3,940 TWh.
  • Global new investment in renewable power and fuels climbed to a record US$285.9 billion in 2015 (not including hydro projects greater than 50 MW), growing 5% compared with 2014.
  • Including hydropower projects larger than 50 MW, total new investment in renewable power and fuels was at least US$328.9 billion.
  • Investment in small hydropower fell by 29% to US$3.9 billion and in ocean energy fell by 42% to US$215 million.
  • The five countries with the greatest total hydropower capacity at the end of 2015 were China (27.9%), Brazil (8.6%), U.S. (7.5%), Canada (7.4%) and Russia (4.5%). The five with the greatest total hydropower generation were China, Brazil, Canada, U.S. and Russia.

The definition of large and small hydro used is not clear; the report does say that IRENA defines large hydropower as projects above 10 MW.

The report briefly discusses ocean energy, defined as wave and tidal current technologies. Ocean energy capacity remained at about 530 MW in 2015. Ocean energy technology deployments were predominantly demonstration projects, with most activity concentrated in tidal energy technologies.

The report is available at

OpEx Corner: The Role of Human Performance

The National Hydropower Association’s OpEx database offers insights into lessons learned regarding the role of human performance in negative events in the hydropower industry. For example:

  • 40% of event reports in the OpEx database involve human performance causes
  • Review the corrective actions and implement the new procedures developed by these entities to prevent a similar occurrence at your facility

Visit for more information and to join more than 90 companies in exchanging critical information in a secure environment.


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