At the National Hydropower Association conference in Washington, D.C. earlier this week, Department of Energy ("DOE") Secretary Steven Chu and Department of the Interior ("DOI") Secretary Ken Salazar announced a $26.6 million grant program to advance the development, testing, validation, modeling, and interconnection of advanced conventional hydropower systems. The agencies' news came at the same time that the DOE's Oakridge National Laboratory announced that as much of 12.6 GW (12,600 MW) of additional hydropower capacity can be drawn from the nation's waterways if generating facilities are added to 54,000 dams (including federal projects) that currently do not have them. The top 100 of those sites could add up to as much as 8 GW (8,000 MW) of capcity.

Topics 1, 2, and 3 of the Funding Opportunity Announcement (DE-FOA-0000486) will be funded by the DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy ("EERE"). Topic 4 will be jointly funded by the EERE and the DOI's Bureau of Reclamation. The topics are as follows:

  • Topic 1. Sustainable Small Hydropower. $10.5 million over three years to advance research and development of small hydropower facilities to be installed at existing facilities (e.g., dams, conduits).
  • Topic 2. Sustainable Pumped Storage Hydropower. $11.875 million over four years to provide assistance to projects already in development. Preference will go to projects that will begin construction in 2014 and assist with grid integration of variable resources like wind and solar.
  • Topic 3. Environmental Mitigation Technologies for Conventional Hydropower. $2.25 million over three years for R&D related to issues facing conventional hydropower technologies (e.g., turbine efficiencies and fish mortality).
  • Topic 4. Advanced Hydropower System Testing at a Bureau of Reclamation Facility. $2 million over three years for system testing of low-head hydropower technologies at existing, non-powered Bureau of Reclamation facilities.

Letters of Intent for the FOA are due no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on May 5, 2011. Applications are due no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on June 6, 2011.