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Project Summary

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) researchers, project partners, and hydropower technology stakeholders will conduct this early-stage research to define design parameters for a new class of hydropower technology that reduces cost, with a smaller physical and environmental footprint. This new technology will be standard—meaning its geometry, local hydraulics, aesthetics, cost structure, and other salient design features are site-independent, with limited environmental impacts. It will also be modular—meaning that capacity and function can be scaled to a site through deployment of multiple components that are designed to integrate with minimum cost and maximum value.

Project Snapshot
Project TitleStandard Modular Hydropower Technology Acceleration
AwardeeOak Ridge National Laboratory
Awardee HQ LocationTennessee
DOE Funding Amount$899,527
Program AreaNext-Generation Technology Development and Manufacturing
Recipient TypeLaboratory
Award TypeAnnual Operating Plan
Year Awarded2016
Work LocationsTennessee
Congressional District(s)TN-2, TN-3


What You Need To Know


The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has identified roughly 12 GW of potential hydropower capacity at existing non-powered dams and 65 GW of potential hydropower capacity in un-impounded streams across the United States. Standard Modular Hydropower (SMH) technology will be applicable to non-powered dams and un-impounded streams. The SMH emphasis on preserving stream functionality in environmentally compatible, cost-optimized applications will increase the likelihood and breadth of successful development of this potential. 

  • Reduced-footprint, reduced-cost, and reduced-risk designs enable project developers and investors to undertake more new project development with greater assurance of success.
  • Developing cost-optimized modules capable of sustaining the natural passage of fish, recreational watercraft, and sediment maximizes water use, energy, and the environment. 
  • Current research will engage stakeholder groups through facilitated discussions, workshops, and webinars.
  • ORNL researchers and project partners will conduct initial research, framing, and piloting of a standardized method for classifying the environmental and hydrologic characteristics of potential development sites and the type of modules they require.
  • This information will be used to create an exemplary design envelope that can inform the design of future standard, modular hydropower systems.

About the Water Power Technologies Office

DOE’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.