FLASH: Framework for Linked Analysis of Streamflow and Hydropower

The Framework for Linked Analysis of Streamflow and Hydropower (FLASH) is a systems-engineering-based approach that will improve the ability to incorporate hydropower in grid operations modeling.

Side view of large river dam
About 2,500 dams across the United States produce electricity. Pictured here is Gross Reservoir Dam in Colorado. Photo from Brent Olson, U.S. Department of Energy 

Hydropower is an important resource for the electric grid, supplying more than a third of the nation's renewable power and providing backup energy for other sources, such as wind and solar. However, hydroelectric power plant operators need better insight into how much hydropower is available at a given time.

Supported by the U.S. Department of Energy Water Power Technologies Office, FLASH combines NREL's grid integration expertise with the river-basin-scale modeling and water forecasting expertise of RTI International, a North Carolina-based nonprofit research organization and partner on this project.

FLASH will help users better understand the linkages between river basin operations and hydropower's availability, providing new opportunities for renewable energy on the grid. The framework couples NREL's open-source Scalable Integrated Infrastructure Planning (SIIP) model with Colorado State University's freely available decision support tool for river basin operations, MODSIM-DSS.

This combination of SIIP and MODSIM-DSS will enable users to investigate how hydropower renovations, retrofits, or dam removal could affect basin-scale operations in terms of both the watershed flows and grid performance. The resulting insights provide a strong foundation for energyshed work, an emerging science that explores the geographic footprint of a community's energy use.


Greg Stark

Researcher V, Hydropower Technical Lead