The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Norway’s Royal Ministry of Petroleum and Energy made a commitment to collaborate on hydropower research and development by signing an Annex to a previously signed memorandum of understanding (MOU).

This MOU Annex brings together the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) and the Norwegian Research Centre for Hydropower Technology (HydroCen) to plan and coordinate hydropower R&D activities, including developing, sharing, and implementing results, to increase understanding of hydropower’s role in the future energy mix.

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 Annex 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
  • Technology Innovation

Listed below are the project summaries of nine collaborative projects stemming from this MOU Annex:

IEA Annex IX: Valuing Hydropower Services-Phase II

IEA Annex IX: Valuing Hydropower Services-Phase II joins U.S. national laboratories (Argonne National Laboratory and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory) and Norway’s SINTEF Energy Research, and Norwegian University of Science and Technology. The goal of this effort is to investigate the value of services provided by hydropower projects, supporting Annex IX of the IEA Hydropower Technology Collaboration Programme. This multilateral collaboration includes various countries, and the US and Norway are both active contributors. Work by the project team may include determining economic values for energy management, water management, and socio-economic services; exploring hydropower’s capability in producing significant amounts of firm renewable energy and storage to support VRE sources; and valuing flexible energy services to support electricity systems—collectively termed “hydro balancing”—to understand how hydropower will be valued in future electricity market scenarios and under alternate climate change scenarios.  Learn more at IEA Hydro Annex IX website.

For more information, read the project summary:

U.S.-Norway R&D Goals - Electricity Market Models for the Future Power Grid: A US-European Review

U.S.-Norway R&D Goals - Electricity Market Models for the Future Power Grid: A US-European Review joins U.S. national laboratories (Argonne National Laboratory and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory), Norway’s SINTEF Energy Research, and Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). The objective of this partnership is to review existing electricity market model tools in the United States and Europe and identify key research gaps to be addressed in future joint US-Norway research projects. Key project outcomes will be communicated in a journal paper focusing on tools developed by the national labs in the U.S., NTNU and SINTEF Energy Research in Norway, and other research and commercial tools.

For more information, read the project summary:

Needs Assessment and Initiation of a Digital Twin for Hydropower Systems Open Platform Framework (DTHS-OPF)

Needs Assessment and Initiation of a Digital Twin for Hydropower Systems Open Platform Framework (DTHS-OPF) joins U.S. national laboratories (Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory) and Norway’s research centers (SINTEF Energy Research and Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). This effort aims to scope and launch a digital twin for hydropower systems (DTHS) to assist WPTO in preparing and publishing a multi-year research roadmap. Partners strive to position DTHS as a best practice and baseline digitalization technology, for designing, operating, and managing the reliability, performance, and costs of hydropower assets.

Hydropower Digitalization for US-Norway R&D Coordination Project

Hydropower Digitalization for US-Norway R&D Coordination project combines U.S. national laboratories (Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory) and Norway’s SINTEF Energy Research to provide information to inform R&D on hydropower digitalization. This project will focus on assessing current digitalization of hydropower fleets in the U.S. and Norway, and in highlighting growth opportunities for the hydropower industry. Researchers will assess the status of digitalization status by engaging with hydropower asset owners and operators in an effort to define the scope of hydropower digitalization, and quantify the priorities of ongoing efforts. The project seeks to identify opportunities for increasing digitalization in hydropower, and inform R&D activities to enable and support increased deployment of digitalization in hydropower.

For more information, read the project summary:

Environmental DNA (eDNA) applications for hydropower aquatic community monitoring and environmental impact

Environmental DNA (eDNA) applications for hydropower aquatic community monitoring and environmental impact joins the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to support exploring the effectiveness of environmental DNA (eDNA) applications to hydropower studies. The project focuses on tailoring eDNA methods to questions of hydropower importance to lay the foundation for future applications of eDNA to riverine systems. ORNL researchers recently completed a study that aimed to develop eDNA distribution patterns by analyzing fish species relative abundance at their four eDNA collection locations in the Melton Hill Dam in Tennessee and have launched another project to better understand quantifying species abundance with eDNA, a key limitation to the technology. Overall, this collaboration hopes to provide a better resolution of species compositions, distributions, and abundance estimates of critical species in hydropower-affected rivers.

For more information, read the project summary:

Hydropeaking Workshop for US-Norway R&D Coordination

Hydropeaking Workshop for US-Norway R&D Coordination joins U.S. national laboratories (Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory) and Norway’s HydroCen to facilitate workshops on hydropeaking. Researchers and practitioners will transfer knowledge, identify research gaps, and provide information to inform R&D. The workshops will provide researchers a greater understanding of how flow requirements and flexibility interact. To facilitate this understanding, the project team strives to create an interactive map, data sets, and case studies depicting the relationship between operational flexibility and environmental outcomes under the HydroWIRES Topic A project that is focused energy and environment win-wins and tradeoffs through water flow planning.

For more information, read the project summary:

Hydropower Scheduling Toolchains – Comparing Experiences and Future Challenges in Norway, Brazil and USA

Hydropower Scheduling Toolchains – Comparing Experiences and Future Challenges in Norway, Brazil and USA joins U.S. national laboratories (Argonne National Laboratory and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory), Norway’s SINTEF Energy Research and Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro State University to compare how hydropower scheduling is executed across different timescales. This project will explore toolchains applied for hydropower generation scheduling in Norway, Brazil, and the United States. By analysing scheduling models in a variety of locations, the project team will identify similarities, differences, and room for improvement among the three. Insights from this project will lead to more efficient hydropower scheduling in future opportunities.

For more information, read the project summary:

Data-Driven Approach for Hydropower Plant Controller Prototyping using Remote Hardware-in-the-Loop (DR-HIL)

Data-Driven Approach for Hydropower Plant Controller Prototyping using Remote Hardware-in-the-Loop (DR-HIL) joins several U.S. institutions (National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Auburn University, Cordova Electric Cooperative, Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and two Norway universities (University of South-Eastern Norway and Norwegian University of Science and Technology). This effort seeks to evaluate and reduce the technological barriers in adoption of data-driven hydropower controls for electric grid services. Researchers will use the Advanced Research for Integrated Energy Systems (ARIES) in development of the DR-HIL. Key anticipated outcomes from this project include hydropower plant control representations and evaluating the applicability for DR-HIL for other hydropower uses.

For more information, read the project summary:

Pressure Sensing Acoustic Telemetry Fish Tag Development

Pressure Sensing Acoustic Telemetry Fish Tag Development joins Pacific Northwest National Laboratory with Norway’s SINTEF Energy Research and Norwegian Institute for Nature Research to develop acoustic transmitters that include extremely tiny pressure sensors and be used to study the behavior and survival of sensitive species. The project will allow researchers from the US and Norway to explore the potential for enhanced sensing capability of the acoustic transmitters, leading to improved understanding of fish passage through hydropower systems. In the long term, novel acoustic transmitter capabilities may lead to reduced cost and time of hydropower permitting and fewer environmental impacts.

For more information, read the project summary:

Environmental Decision Tools for Hydropower Development

Environmental Decision Tools for Hydropower Development joins Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Norway’s SINTEF Energy Research and Norwegian Institute for Nature Research to evaluate environmental decision tools, including ORNL's EDS Toolkit. Researchers will review existing support tools, explore barriers to uptake applications of information from tools, and develop recommendations for testing existing decision-making tools. Insights from this project will be summarized in a final white paper, which can be used by hydropower developers to support environmental assessments required for permitting, which may shorten licensing negotiations and promote greater confidence in federal authorization processes relating to hydropower development.

For more information, read the project summary: