The U.S. Department of Energy today announced the availability of $9.8 million in funding for up to 12 projects to develop "innovative technologies that will reduce capital costs and deployment timelines" for pumped-storage projects and development at non-powered dams.
Unveiled concurrently with DOE's Hydropower Vision plan during the opening keynote at HydroVision International 2016, the funding is part of the Water Power Technology Office's HydroNEXT initiative.
Non-powered dams in the U.S. represent a significant source of untapped hydroelectric potential, DOE said, with only about 3% of the country's dam infrastructure currently generating power.
"Adding power to these facilities can often be achieved at lower costs and in shorter timeframes than development requiring new dam construction," DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) said. "However, the majority of these non-powered dams have challenges such as low heads, low/varying inflows, and environmental considerations that existing technologies are not able to overcome in a cost-effective way."
The office said it intends to meet those obstacles through "innovative turbine/generator units that can operate at low heads and across a variety of flows can be incorporated with modular, standard designs to improve technical performance and reduce civil works costs and deployment timelines."
Meanwhile, EERE said it is particularly interested in new adjustable-speed pumped-storage technologies that provide additional flexibility beyond that afforded by existing fixed-speed units.
DOE will hold an informational webinar August 2, 2016, with concept papers due August 25, 2016.
A full timeline of due dates and further information can be found via EERE's website here.