Departments of Energy and Interior Award Nearly $17 Million for Advanced Hydropower Technologies



09/06/2011


Contact: Adam Fetcher (DOI) 202-208-6416 / News Media Contact (DOE) 202-586-4940

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Department Energy Secretary Steven Chu and U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar today announced nearly $17 million in funding over the next three years for research and development projects to advance hydropower technology. Sixteen projects in 11 states were selected through a competitive grant process for their ability to contribute to the development of innovative technologies that produce hydropower more efficiently, reduce costs and increase sustainable hydropower generation. The funding will help advance the Obama Administration's goal of meeting 80 percent of our electricity needs from clean energy sources by 2035.

"By improving and deploying advanced hydropower technologies, we can maximize our use of this proven clean energy resource, create jobs, and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels," said Secretary Chu. "Hydropower can be used to store energy to help utilities better integrate other sources of renewable energy like wind and solar into the grid, improving our energy security and diversifying our clean energy resources."

"This Administration is supporting innovative development of hydropower – one of our largest renewable energy sources – with an emphasis on reducing or eliminating environmental impacts on ecosystems," Secretary Salazar said. "These research and development dollars will help make hydropower technology more efficient and cost-effective as we continue to promote clean energy resources and build an American renewable energy economy in an environmentally responsible manner."

These projects will advance sustainable renewable energy generation from small (less than 30 megawatts) hydropower resources, enhance environmental performance of hydropower, test innovative, cost-effective technologies for hydropower development at low-head (less than a 30 foot drop) sites such as irrigation canals and non-powered dams, and spur deployment of pumped storage hydropower. By allowing utility operators to pump water up to a dam or impoundment during periods of low electricity demand and release water during times of peak electricity demand, pumped storage hydropower improves the reliability of electric grids and helps increase the use of variable renewable energy resources such as wind and solar power.

Hydropower is a source of renewable energy that can be relied upon for long-term, stable production of domestic electricity. The hydropower industry currently employs more than 300,000 workers in the United States, making it not only the oldest, but also the largest renewable power generation workforce in the nation.

The selections announced today focus on four approaches to advancing hydropower in the United States:

Read the full list of award winners.

DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy(EERE) works to research, test, and develop innovative technologies capable of generating renewable, environmentally responsible, and cost-effective electricity from wind and water power. Learn more about EERE's investments to develop advanced hydropower technologies.

DOI's Bureau of Reclamation is the largest U.S. wholesaler of water and the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the West. Reclamation is a contemporary water management agency with a mission is to assist in meeting the increasing water demands of the West while protecting the environment and the public's investment in these structures.

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