NREL works to achieve responsible deployment of hydropower research through grid optimization, regulatory roadmapping, and economic analysis. In addition, its facilities are available to support hydropower technology testing and design optimization.
NREL's research and development capabilities in hydropower technologies cover the spectrum from design, simulation, and standards, to technology testing and energy and economic analysis, to grid integration and market acceleration.
NREL's on-campus facilities allow engineers to test hydropower components for performance and reliability in a controlled environment, allowing devices to be optimized prior to expensive and time-consuming open-water testing.
Design, Simulation, and Standards
NREL has enjoyed long-term, ongoing partnerships with the hydropower industry that have led to developing design and simulation tools in generic and open-source forms. In addition, staff has been involved in developing standards in collaboration with industry to warrant acceptance and global deployment of hydropower generation.
Energy and Economic Analysis
NREL's hydropower researchers evaluate cost-reduction pathways through the primary cost drivers such as civil infrastructure and turbo-machinery. Using these methodologies, tools, and direct industry data, they analyze the near- and long-term cost of energy potential for hydropower technologies.
NREL's suite of power-system-modeling tools can simulate various aspects of operating on the grid. Using these models, analysts can evaluate the impact and value of all types of hydropower generation on the power system.
NREL's market acceleration and deployment team articulates the potential impacts and benefits of water power technologies—including those related to manufacturing, siting, permitting, and workforce development—to state and local communities.
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Hydropower Research Leads
Hydropower research leads at NREL focus on increasing hydropower as a renewable resource in the United States through upgrades made to existing hydropower dams and adding power to nonpowered dams.