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Project Summary

This project’s goal is to investigate and demonstrate the potential for run-of-river (ROR) hydroelectric power plants—hydro plants with little or no water storage—to participate in ancillary service markets. Ancillary services allow the electric grid to facilitate and support the continuous flow of electricity so that supply meets demand. The project aims to emulate the behavior of a large hydropower plant by combining and cohesively controlling multiple, small ROR hydroelectric power plants with energy storage systems (ESS).

The project team will work with a power electronics original equipment manufacturer on an emerging technology to maximize ROR hydroelectric power plant operation, which leads to flexible grid services. This project is a collaboration between three national laboratories—Idaho National Laboratory (INL), Argonne National Laboratory, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Project Snapshot
Project TitleIntegrated Hydropower Storage Systems
AwardeeIdaho National Laboratory
Awardee HQ LocationIdaho
DOE Funding Amount$675,000
Program AreaNext-Generation Technology Development and Manufacturing
Recipient TypeLaboratory
Award TypeAnnual Operating Plan
Year Awarded2016
Work LocationsColorado, Idaho, Illinois, Washington, D.C.
Congressional District(s)CO-7, DC-AL, ID-2, IL-3


What You Need To Know


This project supports research and development efforts toward advancing new hydropower systems and components, as well as identifying revenue streams for ancillary services. A significant (about 65 GW) untapped, small-head, hydropower resource exists in the United States. This will help the United States make better use of its hydropower resources.

  • Allows ROR hydropower plants to provide greater value to the grid by operating more flexibly.
  • Provides industry and power system operators with the tools to perform simulations and modeling of ROR hydroelectric power plants.
  • Integrates unique storage technologies that allow for better understanding of their impacts on the stability of power systems.
  • Optimize single-project ROR hydroelectric power plant and EES operations under different plausible power sector future scenarios and analyze value streams.
  • Simulate coordinated operation of cascaded systems of small ROR hydropower plants as a large storage reservoir and estimate aggregate value streams.
  • Analyze, document, and disseminate results to the hydropower industry.

Project Partners

Argonne National Laboratory
Assessing the potential ancillary service market avenues
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Machine modeling and gap analysis for ROR hydroelectric power plants
With INL, implementing controls and communications to control all the ROR hydroelectric power plants and ESS

About the Water Power Technologies Office

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office advances cutting-edge technology to modernize the U.S. hydropower fleet and drive U.S. leadership in wave and tidal energy, with the goal of delivering low-cost power and resiliency to America’s power grids.