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On March 24, 2014, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a Notice of Intent to issue a funding opportunity titled “Water Power Manufacturing.” The goal of this funding opportunity is to design an integrated hydropower turbine generator system that applies advanced materials and /or additive manufacturing techniques and produce a prototype unit at an appropriate scale to enable in-water performance testing in a laboratory environment.

There is a significant opportunity to increase hydropower generation at low-head sites in the United States and around the world and leveraging existing water resource infrastructure makes these sites attractive from an economic and permitting perspective. These non-powered dams and constrained waterway sites tend to have roads and transmission lines already established, and as the core infrastructure is already in place, there would be minimal environmental impact due to the addition of a hydropower unit.

This funding opportunity will address the critical component of developing low-cost, integrated hydropower turbine-generator sets capable of delivering cost-competitive electricity from these resources. While all high-impact applications will be considered, the following criteria are considered essential design elements in this regard:

• Modular, self-contained units: hydropower turbine-generator units should be relatively lightweight and be designed to be readily packaged to ease shipment and installation upon delivery.
• Variable Speed: High efficiency across a range of flows.
• Cost Competitive: Capital costs at full-scale production runs of less than $2k/kW, and an LCOE of $0.06/kW-hr or less: Systems must be able to compete with local hurdle rates.
• Minimize costs of manufacturing, operations and maintenance, and repair: The application of advanced materials and advanced manufacturing techniques to maximize the efficiency of unit production; and improve performance, survivability, and reparability of hydro turbine generator sets should yield cost-competitive, high performance systems with broad applicability.
• Ecologically non-disruptive: turbine/generator units should not have a significantly deleterious effect on marine life compared to the existing resource and infrastructure.

Read the full Notice of Intent on the Department of Energy’s Funding Opportunity Exchange.

To learn about funding opportunities available through the Water Power Program, please visit the Financial Opportunities Web page. To receive timely news updates, please subscribe to the Water Power Program’s Breaking News Updates.