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Developing new hydropower is limited by the customized and site-specific approach to construction, powerhouse design/installation, and environmental mitigation. The remaining new hydropower resources—including non-powered dams, new stream-reaches, and conduits—are smaller, lower-energy density and expensive to develop with existing technologies. In addition, there are uncertain and complex socio-environmental impacts associated with existing hydropower designs that could require difficult or expensive mitigation measures. Finally, developing new hydropower is constrained by a lack of infrastructure and limited capabilities to test and validate new technologies and designs.

Through its Innovations for Low-Impact Hydropower Growth Activity Area, WPTO aims to address these challenges through the following approaches:

  • Enable new technology development for both existing water infrastructure and new stream-reach applications that incorporate ecological and social objectives
  • Leverage advancements in manufacturing and materials to dramatically lower costs of components and systems designs
  • Support testing of new technologies, including development of necessary testing infrastructure
  • Explore opportunities for new development in which hydropower is a critical enabler of a larger suite of benefits.

Featured Publications & Projects

Prize Lowers Costs, Improves Performance of Hydropower Components
In December 2020, WPTO announced 11 winners of the I AM Hydro Prize, a competition designed to help strengthen hydropower technologies.
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Penn State’s Modular, Scalable, Rapidly Deployable Hydropower System
Pennsylvania State University has manufactured and validated a novel hydropower turbine-generator which can be deployed at various low-head sites.
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The 21st Century Archimedes Screw
An Archimedes Hydrodynamic Screw turbine, using composite materials and advanced manufacturing methods, is reducing costs and improving efficiency.
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I AM Hydro Prize
Support hydropower by integrating advanced manufacturing technologies to lower costs, improve performance, and reduce manufacturing times.
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Groundbreaking Hydro Prize
Encourage the development of new ideas to cut the costs, timelines, and risks associated with hydropower foundation development.
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Irrigation Modernization
Farmers Conservation Alliance focuses on agricultural resiliency, more specifically modernizing the American West’s aging irrigation infrastructure.
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A New Way to Modernize Irrigation Infrastructure and Generate Renewable Energy
The modernization of irrigation and water infrastructure presents agricultural, environmental, economic, social, and energy benefits.
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EERE Success Story—First Composite Screw-Turbine Tested at Full-Scale in the United States
Percheron Power of Kennewick, Washington, recently concluded an initial round of prototype testing for their Composite Archimedes Hydrodynamic Screw.
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