Hydro Opportunities Increasing
New technologies and power development opportunities are spurring growth in hydropower generation at reservoirs and canals throughout the western US, the US Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) has announced.
Hydropower generation capacity has increased at USBR facilities in the West with the addition of Lease of Power Privilege (LOPP) development by non-federal partners, development of new technologies, and improved efficiencies at existing power plants. Through LOPP, more than 111,200MWh of hydropower may be generated annually.
Seven projects are currently operating under a LOPP with six additional projects currently in development. These projects have an installed capacity of more than 55,000kW. LOPP can take place when USBR leases its right to develop hydropower at its facilities to non-federal developers. USBR finalized the LOPP process requirements in September 2012. These requirements provide clear guidance and timelines, assign roles and responsibilities, set a standard methodology and identify potential charges for developers.
"Using existing dams and conduits for new hydropower generation provides a new source of reliable and sustainable energy in the west that minimally impacts other natural resources," said Reclamation Senior Advisor for Power Kerry McCalman. "New generation technologies may open up more areas for hydropower generation that non-federal developers can use for the generation of green, renewable hydropower for their projects and communities."
USBR is testing the deployment of hydrokinetic generators in canals and recently completed testing a 25kW hydrokinetic generator designed by BAE Systems in the Roza Canal near Yakima, Washington, through a facility use agreement with Instream Energy Systems. Planning for the next phase of the study is underway. In this phase, multiple hydrokinetic units will be deployed through the canal.
Generation efficiency is also improving at USBR hydropower facilities through uprating generator capacity, replacing turbines and optimizing how the power is dispatched.
Through uprating, USBR has gained 2894MW of additional capacity from existing plants. For example, USBR completed two uprates at Flatiron powerplant (units 1 and 2) near Loveland, Colorado, in 2010 and 2012, yielding 4MW of additional capacity.
Since 2009, USBR has replaced 20 turbines with an average increase in efficiency of approximately 3%. There are four turbine replacement projects scheduled through 2017.
USBR is also implementing a generation optimization system at its power facilities. A computer-based optimization system allows its power plants to operate more efficiently, maximizing generation per acre foot of water, it said. The system has been installed at Black Canyon Control Center in Idaho. It will provide dispatch recommendations for Black Canyon, Palisades, Minidoka and Anderson Ranch powerplants. The system is expected to provide an additional 10-30MkWh of annual generation at the facilities operated out of the Black Canyon Control Center. Installations at other facilities are scheduled through 2016.
If these systems were installed at all Reclamation powerplants, 400M to 1200MkWh of additional annual generation could be achieved.
In 2011 and 2012, Reclamation identified a potential for 1.565 million MWh of additional electricity that could be generated annually at existing Reclamation dams and conduits.
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