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The mission of the HydroWIRES (Water Innovation for a Resilient Electricity System) Initiative is to understand, enable, and improve hydropower’s contributions to reliability, resilience, and integration in the rapidly evolving U.S. electricity system. Covering all grid reliability, resilience, and grid integration within WPTO’s hydropower portfolio, work conducted under HydroWIRES is organized under four interrelated research areas:

1) Value under Evolving System Conditions

2) Capabilities and Constraints

3) Operations and Planning

4) Technology Innovation.

While WPTO has historically focused on technology solutions to drive down the cost of hydropower development and support the expansion of the sector, HydroWIRES adds a complementary focus on hydropower’s role as an integrator of variable renewables. The central hypothesis of HydroWIRES is that, as the electricity system undergoes rapid changes, the U.S. hydropower fleet is well-positioned to take on this new role by offering:

  • Additional value streams
  • Enhanced flexibility
  • New operational strategies
  • Innovative technology solutions.

WPTO works closely with a group of DOE National Laboratory researchers to both plan and implement projects under each research area to address hydropower industry challenges.


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Related Initiatives

Energy Storage Grand Challenge

HydroWIRES is one of a number of different initiatives and programs that form part of the recently developed Energy Storage Grand Challenge (ESGC). The ESGC is a comprehensive program developed by staff from DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Office of Electricity, Office of Technology Transitions, Office of Science, as well as from the National Laboratories. Designed to accelerate the development, commercialization, and utilization of next-generation energy storage technologies and to sustain American global leadership in energy storage, the challenge currently has a draft roadmap and request for information open for public comment.

Grid Modernization Initiative (GMI)

HydroWIRES operates in conjunction with GMI, which focuses on the development of new architectural concepts, tools, and technologies that measure, analyze, predict, protect, and control the grid of the future, and on enabling the institutional conditions that allow for quicker development and widespread adoption of these tools and technologies.

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Norway’s Royal Ministry of Petroleum and Energy (OED)

DOE’s MOU with OED brings together WPTO and the Norwegian Research Centre for Hydropower Technology (HydroCen) to plan and coordinate hydropower R&D activities; develop, share, and implement results; increase understanding of hydropower’s role in the future energy mix; and provide input to international discussions regarding hydropower. Hydropower faces similar challenges and opportunities in the United States and Norway, and both countries are committed to enabling hydropower to support their respective electricity systems.

Collaborative R&D under this MOU may include:

  • Markets and Value;
  • Hydropower plant Capabilities and Constraints;
  • Monitoring and Control Technologies;
  • Environmental Design Solutions;
  • Environmental Impacts and Tradeoffs;
  • Flexible Operations and Planning; and
  • Technology Innovation

HydroWIRES News & Updates

Hydropower Value Study: Current Status and Future Opportunities
This study reveals the current landscape and prospective role and influence of hydropower operations on the nation’s electric grid.
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Shoring Up Resilience Through Hydropower and PSH
Rapid changes in the U.S. electricity system have created new needs for grid services that hydropower and PSH are well-suited to provide.
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Seeking Solutions for FAST Pumped-Storage Hydro Development
In October 2019, WPTO selected four grand prize winners for the Furthering Advancements to Shorten Time (FAST) Commissioning for PSH Prize.
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Creating Real Value with Virtual Reservoirs
Three national laboratories are demonstrating the technical and economic benefit of integrating run-of-river plants with energy storage.
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Pumped-Storage Hydropower GLIDES to Market
The GLIDES project investigated a new form of PSH with promising estimated returns on investment for potential future commercial projects.
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Cutting Construction Costs, Timelines for PSH Development
Obermeyer Hydro, Inc.’s novel PSH system reduces capital costs, negative environmental impacts, and geological risks associated with PSH development.
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Assessing Environmental Impacts for PSH
A new study distinguishes between different PSH configurations and discusses ways to minimize potential effects on the environment.
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Improving Hydropower Representation in Power System Models
Bridging the gap between power system and water management models.
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U.S. Department of Energy Announces Notice of Opportunity for Technical Assistance to Support Hydropower Decision Making
This opportunity will provide hydropower decision makers with National Lab expertise and capabilities to address current challenges.
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FAST Commissioning for Pumped-Storage Hydropower Prize
For next-generation pumped-storage hydropower development and the encouragement of exploration for new use cases of PSH.
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A Comparison of the Environmental Effects of Open-Loop and Closed-Loop Pumped Storage Hydropower
A Comparison of the Environmental Effects of Open-Loop and Closed-Loop Pumped Storage Hydropower.
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Hydropower Memorandum of Understanding 2020
The MOU and resulting action plan will detail overarching topics to increase sustainable hydropower generation and flexibility.
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Novel Design Configuration Increases Market Viability for Pumped-Storage Hydropower in the United States
Obermeyer's reversible pump turbine is enabling PSH projects to deploy with less substantial civil construction and equipment component costs.
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Pumped Storage Hydropower FAST Commissioning Technical Analysis
This report is designed to address barriers and solutions to PSH development.
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