The Hydropower Research, Development, and Demonstration Program is designed to fund research, development, and demonstration activities to improve hydropower technologies.



Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

New Program:


Funding amount:


Funding Mechanism:



Industry, National Labs, Academia, other

Period of Availability:

Available until expended

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Eligible Uses

Research, development, demonstration, and commercial application for technologies that improve the capacity, efficiency, resilience, security, reliability, affordability, and environmental impact, including potential cumulative environmental impacts, of hydropower systems. This includes:

1)    develop technology for—
a.    non-powered dams, including aging and potentially hazardous dams;
b.    pumped storage; c.    constructed waterways;
d.    new stream-reach development;
e.    modular and small dams;
f.    increased operational flexibility; and
g.    enhancement of relevant existing facilities;

2)    develop new strategies and technologies, including analytical methods, physical and numerical tools, and advanced computing, as well as methods to validate such methods and tools, in order to—
h.    extend the operational lifetime of hydropower systems and their physical structures, while improving environmental impact, including potential cumulative environmental impacts;
i.    assist in device and system design, installation, operation, and maintenance; and
j.    reduce costs, limit outages, and increase unit and plant efficiencies, including by examining the impact of changing water and electricity demand on hydropower generation, flexibility, and provision of grid services;

3)    study, in conjunction with other relevant Federal agencies as appropriate, methods to improve the hydropower licensing process, including by compiling current and accepted best practices, public comments, and methodologies to assess the full range of potential environmental and economic impacts;

4)    identify opportunities for joint research, development, and demonstration programs between hydropower systems, which may include—
i.    pumped storage systems and other renewable energy systems;
ii.    small hydro facilities and other energy storage systems;
iii.    other hybrid energy systems;
iv.    small hydro facilities and critical infrastructure, including water infrastructure; and
v.    hydro facilities and responsive load technologies, which may include smart buildings and city systems;

5)    improve the reliability of hydropower technologies, including during extreme weather events;

6)    develop methods and technologies to improve environmental impact, including potential cumulative environmental impacts, of hydropower and pumped storage technologies, including potential impacts on wildlife, such as—
i.    fisheries;
ii.    aquatic life and resources;
iii.    navigation of waterways; and
iv.    upstream and downstream environmental conditions, including sediment movement, water quality, and flow volumes;

7)    identify ways to increase power generation by—
i.    diversifying plant configuration options;
ii.    improving pump-back efficiencies;
iii.    investigating multi-phase systems;

8)    developing, testing, and monitoring advanced generators with faster cycling times, variable speeds, and improved efficiencies;
i.    developing, testing, and monitoring advanced turbines capable of improving environmental impact, including potential cumulative environmental impacts, including small turbine designs;
ii.  developing standardized powertrain components;
iii. developing components with advanced materials and manufacturing processes, including additive manufacturing; and
iv. developing analytical tools that enable hydropower to provide grid services that, amongst other services, improve grid integration of other energy sources;

9)    advance new pumped storage technologies, including—
i.    systems with adjustable speed and other new pumping and generating equipment designs;
ii.    modular systems;
iii.    alternative closed-loop systems, including mines and quarries; and
iv.    other innovative equipment and materials as determined by the Secretary;

10)    reduce civil works costs and construction times for hydropower and pumped storage systems, including comprehensive data and systems analysis of hydropower and pumped storage construction technologies and processes in order to identify areas for whole-system efficiency gains;

11)    advance efficient and reliable integration of hydropower and pumped storage systems with the electric grid by—
i.    improving methods for operational forecasting of renewable energy systems to identify opportunities for hydropower applications in pumped storage and hybrid energy systems, including forecasting of seasonal and annual energy storage;
ii.    considering aggregating small distributed hydropower assets; and
iii.    identifying barriers to grid scale implementation of hydropower and pumped storage technologies;

12) improve computational fluid dynamic modeling methods;

13) improve flow measurement methods, including maintenance of continuous flow measurement equipment;

14) identify best methods for compiling data on all hydropower resources and assets, including identifying potential for increased capacity; and

15) identify mechanisms to test and validate performance of hydropower and pumped storage technologies.

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