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Community Highlights

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A student watches as a researcher holds a juvenile salmon and tags it with a passive acoustic transmitter.
Students at Salmon Summit learn about fish passage and tagging from hydropower researchers. (Photo by Andrea Starr | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

Salmon Summit Brings Hydropower to Students

Tags
Enhanced Collaboration, Education, and Outreach
Workforce Development
Sectors
DOE/National Labs
Other stakeholders

The Salmon in the Classroom curriculum, sponsored by the Benton Conservation District (BCD), is an annual program in which fourth and fifth grade students across eastern Washington raise fish in the classroom. The curriculum culminates in the release of the fish into the Columbia River during the Salmon Summit, where students learn about fish passage, hydropower, and related careers. With support from the Department of Energy Water Power Technologies Office, researchers from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) partner with BCD bring the latest science on hydropower and fish passage to thousands of students in person and via live stream, including live demonstrations of juvenile salmon tagging and release. 

The educators involved in Salmon in the Classroom are also invited to participate in PNNL’s Teacher-Scientist Partnership—a professional development opportunity for educators to work directly with PNNL researchers and staff to tackle real-world scientific challenges. The program aims to help teachers take real-world problems and lessons—in this case about hydropower—back to their students to inspire the future workforce.  

Learn more about Salmon in the Classroom at the BCD website

Published on June 5, 2024
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A map of dam projects in the United States in the Hydropower eLibrary tool.
Interactive map of U.S. hydropower dam projects available in the Hydropower eLibrary.

Hydropower eLibrary Search Tool

Tags
Optimized Regulatory Processes
Process Understanding and Access
Sectors
DOE/National Labs

The Hydropower eLibrary is an online database and search tool designed specifically for users looking for hydropower information within the massive Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) eLibrary. Developed by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) with support from the U.S. Department of Energy Water Power Technologies Office, the Hydropower eLibrary is a comprehensive repository of FERC’s hydropower-related documents and data, accessed using a streamlined and powerful search tool. The tool is intended to help hydropower community members quickly access information that will help them navigate the complex regulatory and licensing processes related to hydropower. Hydropower eLibrary offers unique built-in features including the ability to filter results by key document types, view most-accessed documents, and access all available information for individual hydropower projects via an interactive map of U.S. hydropower facilities. 

Learn more about the Hydropower eLibrary or test it out at hydropowerelibrary.pnnl.gov.

Published on June 5, 2024
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Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations

Tags
Sustainable Development and Operations
Environmental Protection
Sectors
Government
Other stakeholders

Water management and environmental stewardship are key considerations for sustainable hydropower operations. To meet the challenges of growing water demand and the effects of climate change on water resources, hydropower operators need the most accurate weather and water predictions available. Developed by the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes (CW3E), Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations (FIRO) is an approach to reservoir operations that leverages improved weather and water forecasts to better inform water management strategies. FIRO relies on collaborative efforts between federal and state agencies, experts, and stakeholders to use the latest science to develop approaches that enable operational flexibility and support water management in the face of climate change. 

Learn more about FIRO and ongoing FIRO projects in the Western United States at the CW3E website

Published on April 10, 2024
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Aerial view of Willamette River
The Sustainable Rivers Program has helped determine environmental flow requirements on many rivers, including the Willamette River shown here. (Photo by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

Sustainable Rivers Program

Tags
Sustainable Development and Operations
Coordinated Operations
Sectors
Government
Other stakeholders

River infrastructure, such as locks and dams, alters water flow patterns in ways that can affect river species and habitats. The Sustainable Rivers Program is a collaborative effort between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and The Nature Conservancy to find sustainable ways to manage river infrastructure and water flows that maximize benefits to both people and nature. Specifically, the program helps determine environmental flow requirements for rivers—the water flow on either side of a dam necessary to support river species and habitats—and operating plans for infrastructure that use these flows. The program takes a collaborative approach that combines science and stakeholder engagement to review new environmental flow patterns and modernize river infrastructure. Since 2002, the Sustainable Rivers Program has grown to include 44 rivers and 90 associated reservoirs and dams. 

Learn more about the Sustainable Rivers Program from The Nature Conservancy and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Published on March 11, 2024
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Hydropower Regulatory and Permitting Information Desktop Toolkit (RAPID)

Tags
Optimized Regulatory Processes
Process Outcome Assessment
Sectors
DOE/National Labs
Other stakeholders

Navigating federal and state energy regulations and permitting can be a complicated process for developers and regulators, which can slow investments in energy projects. Launched in 2015, the Regulatory and Permitting Information Desktop (RAPID) toolkit is designed to help make it easier to navigate the regulatory processes for hydropower, geothermal, solar, and bulk transmission. Specifically, the free toolkit: 

  • offers easy access to permit applications, processes, and manuals
  • outlines regulatory requirements and clarifies the permitting process
  • provides best practices, case studies, and how-to information
  • facilitates communication among stakeholders

Since 2015, the toolkit has been accessed from all over the United States by users at federal agencies, universities, state and local governments, utilities and developers, and consultants. Hydropower stakeholders can also provide input to continue improving the toolkit over time and keep it updated. RAPID was developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Renewable Energy and the Office of Electricity, with additional support from Tetra Tech, Environmental Management and Planning Solutions Inc., Kearns and West, and Herrick Solutions.

Check out the RAPID toolkit.

Published on March 11, 2024
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A Flexible Framework for Valuing Hydropower

Tags
Improved Valuation
Service Value Recognition
Sectors
DOE/National Labs
Other stakeholders

Economics is a key driver behind the mix of energy sources contributing to the U.S. electric grid. The market value of different energy sources—such as hydropower, solar, wind, or fossil fuels—can determine how competitive they are on the power market. But it is a challenge to accurately estimate the value of hydropower grid services because some of hydro’s key attributes—flexibility and reliability—aren’t included in traditional valuations. To better reflect hydropower’s value, researchers from the Electric Power Research Institute simulated different energy and operating scenarios in the Western Electric Coordinating Council (WECC) region, which encompasses the western United States and parts of Canada and Mexico. With funding from the U.S. Department of Energy to quantify the value of hydropower in the electric grid, this research established the many value streams available to hydropower and identified opportunities to better assess the value of the full range of services that hydropower provides.

To learn more, read the report and check out a summary from Hydro Review. 

Published on March 11, 2024
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Hydropower Flows Here

Tags
Enhanced Collaboration, Education, and Outreach
Resource Access and Sharing
Sectors
Government

Hydropower Flows Here is a multi-year hydropower educational campaign managed by the Bonneville Power Administration in collaboration with public power utilities across the Northwest. The effort has created hundreds of fact-based, educational resources for the public about the benefits of hydropower, including videos, infographics, and activity sheets. There are also free curricula designed for K-12 classrooms that take a closer look at the science and engineering behind hydropower – like how to build a motor or turbine.  

Visit Hydropower Flows Here to learn more and access their free educational content.

Published on March 1, 2024
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Dynamometer
The dynamometer Test Facility at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. (Dennis Schroeder | NREL)

Testing Innovative Hydropower Technologies

Tags
Advanced Technology
Validated Technology
Sectors
DOE/National Labs
Government

Full-scale testing of new hydropower technologies is key to future hydropower innovations, according to research by Oak Ridge National Laboratory. In a report entitled “Needs and Opportunities for Testing of Hydropower Technology Innovations,” the research team highlights the need for hydropower testing facilities that allow full-scale, high hydraulic capacity testing. Such facilities would enable demonstrations of new technologies under realistic operating conditions, lowering the risk for industry adoption. The researchers also identified important characteristics for these testing facilities and some promising pathways to establish such a testing network. 

More information available from Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Published on March 1, 2024