The U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) today released its 2021–2022 Accomplishments Report. This report features more than 40 hydropower and marine energy successes from WPTO-funded projects at national laboratories, academic institutions, companies, and other organizations across the country. Collectively, this work is helping to realize water power’s full potential to help achieve the Biden-Harris administration’s goals of a carbon-free electricity sector by 2035 and a net-zero-emissions economy by 2050.
“Our 2021–2022 Accomplishments Report showcases many projects that can help transform our country’s energy system,” said WPTO Director Jennifer Garson. “Across the United States, researchers, developers, and other experts are developing and testing new technologies, growing the workforce needed to support the hydropower and marine energy sectors, and helping us better understand water power’s potential. I am incredibly excited to share these projects with you.”
As part of WPTO’s Hydropower Program, researchers:
- Assessed opportunities to develop hydropower on conduits (such as existing pipelines and irrigation canals) and identified the potential to add 1.41 gigawatts of new generating capacity.
- Demonstrated a new hydropower turbine design and operating approach that allows plant operators to adjust power output in a few seconds to meet energy demand without having to start or stop units.
- Determined the current hydropower supply chain effectively supports the existing fleet but will need to scale up activities to meet anticipated industry growth due to increased refurbishments, upgrades, and new construction.
- Studied the effects of drought on hydropower generation in the western United States this century and found that while drought raises concern for hydropower generation, the overall western hydropower fleet sustained 80% of its average expected generation.
- Launched the Hydropower Collegiate Competition, which provides participants with direct hydropower industry experience, valuable exposure to potential career pathways, and greater understanding of hydropower’s role in a clean energy future.
Through WPTO’s Marine Energy Program, researchers:
- Tested a prototype wave energy converter designed to generate power from passing waves created by boat wakes and successfully demonstrated that power can be harnessed from waves this small.
- Completed the first at-sea, long-duration wave energy project in California and demonstrated that a wave energy device can efficiently generate clean electricity from ocean waves.
- Completed and published the first large-scale environmental monitoring methodology recommendations for the marine energy industry produced from U.S. field tests.
- Created a new framework to assess marine energy’s potential grid benefits (such as supporting local resiliency and complementing other renewable energy resources) and to help quantify these benefits to support future grid planning and investment decisions.
- Concluded the Waves to Water Prize, during which competitors’ wave-powered desalination devices were safely and successfully deployed in Nags Head, North Carolina, and each produced desalinated water.
Water power technologies have a crucial role to play today and in the future. The projects featured in WPTO’s 2021–2022 Accomplishments Report, along with many more, are helping to advance the hydropower and marine energy technologies that can help the United States achieve its clean energy and climate goals.
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