WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu and U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced nearly $17 million in funding during 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.

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.

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

Sustainable Small Hydropower: Nine projects awarded by DOE will receive a total of $5.8 million and one project jointly funded by DOE and DOI will receive $1.5 million to research, develop, and test low-head, small hydropower technologies that can be quickly and efficiently deployed at existing non-powered dams or constructed waterways. These projects will focus on system or component model development, as well as the real-world testing of these systems.

Sustainable Pumped Storage Hydropower: Two projects awarded by DOE will receive a total of $6.8 million to spur deployment of advanced pumped storage hydropower in the United States. One award will conduct pre-construction, geotechnical evaluations for a pumped storage hydropower project in the early stages of development that will use advanced technology to dynamically respond to the electrical grid, enabling the integration of wind and solar energy. DOE is also supporting analyses that calculate the economic value of pumped storage hydropower.

Environmental Mitigation Technologies for Conventional Hydropower: Three projects awarded by DOE will receive a total of $2 million to develop innovative hydropower technologies that will enhance environmental performance while increasing electricity generation, mitigating fish and habitat impacts and enhancing downstream water quality.

Advanced Hydropower System Testing at a Bureau of Reclamation Facility: One project jointly funded by DOE and DOI will receive $746,000 to support system tests of innovative, low-head, small hydropower technologies at a non-powered site owned by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation. DOE’s funding is targeted at research and development, whereas the Bureau of Reclamation’s funding is targeted at implementation. Energy cost reductions demonstrated at this site could be replicated at other Bureau of Reclamation sites.

Read the full list of award winners at http://energy.gov/articles/16-projects-advance-hydropower-technology.