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Feds award $2.2 million to CO hydro projects


U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced Tuesday nearly $17 million in funding over the next three years for research and development projects to advance hydropower technology, including a pair of projects in Central Oregon.

Sixteen projects in 11 states were selected through a competitive grant process for their ability to contribute to the development of innovative technologies that produce hydropower more efficiently, reduce costs and increase sustainable hydropower generation. The funding will help advance the Obama Administration’s goal of meeting 80 percent of our electricity needs from clean energy sources by 2035.

Earth by Design of Bend will receive $1.5 million from the Department of Energy to develop and test a new low-head modular hydropower technology in a canal in the North Unit Irrigation District to produce cost-competitive electricity.

The departments of Energy and the Interior are co-funding California-based Natel Energy with $746,000 to deploy and test a scaled-up version of the modular Schneider Linear Hydroengine at a Bureau of Reclamation facility in Madras, validating the commercial performance and economic feasibility of the device in a low-head constructed waterway. These projects will advance sustainable renewable energy generation from small (less than 30 megawatts) hydropower resources and test innovative, cost-effective technologies for hydropower development at low-head (less than a 30 foot drop) sites such as irrigation canals and non-powered dams.

“By improving and deploying advanced hydropower technologies, we can maximize our use of this proven clean energy resource, create jobs, and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels,” said Secretary Chu. “Hydropower can be used to store energy to help utilities better integrate other sources of renewable energy like wind and solar into the grid, improving our energy security and diversifying our clean energy resources.”

“This Administration is supporting innovative development of hydropower – one of our largest renewable energy sources – with an emphasis on reducing or eliminating environmental impacts on ecosystems,” Secretary Salazar said. “These research and development dollars will help make hydropower technology more efficient and cost-effective as we continue to promote clean energy resources and build an American renewable energy economy in an environmentally responsible manner.”

Read the full list of award winners.

DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) works to research, test, and develop innovative technologies capable of generating renewable, environmentally responsible, and cost-effective electricity from wind and water power. Learn more about EERE’s investments to develop advanced hydropower technologies.

DOI’s Bureau of Reclamation is the largest U.S. wholesaler of water and the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the West. Reclamation is a contemporary water management agency with a mission is to assist in meeting the increasing water demands of the West while protecting the environment and the public’s investment in these structures.

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