R&D Forum

Hydroelectric turbine to be tested for fish safety

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) won a $1.5 million award from the departments of Energy and the Interior to deploy and test the Alden hydropower turbine. The turbine, developed by Alden Research Laboratories, is made to reduce fish mortality during power production.

The Alden turbine will be deployed at Brookfield Renewable Power’s 38-MW School Street project in New York, with a three-year installation and test plan.

The turbine is made to provide safer passage of downstream migrating fish, potentially minimizing or avoiding non-generating spill over dams, through fish bypasses, and downstream fish passage facilities. The design could also provide additional options for generating capacity and recovery of energy lost in minimum flow releases.

Corps to count fish at Columbia, Snake hydro projects

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to hire contractors to perform fish counting services at eight federal hydro projects on the Columbia and Snake rivers.

The work will be performed for the Northwestern Region’s Anadromous Fish Evaluation Program in the Corps’ Walla Walla and Portland districts.

Work would include counting adult fish passing through fish ladders at the Corps’ eight mainstem dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers: 1,076.6-MW Bonneville, 1,780-MW Dalles, 2,160-MW John Day, 980-MW McNary, 603-MW Ice Harbor, 810-MW Lower Monumental, 810-MW Little Goose and 810-MW Lower Granite.

Fish counting is to produce technical information to help the Corps make engineering and operational decisions to provide safe, efficient fish passage.

Protecting California salmon from warming could affect hydropower

A university study finds that warming streams could exterminate spring-run chinook salmon in California by the end of the century unless management options are adopted that would affect hydroelectric generation.

The University of California, Davis, released results of a study Sept. 1 by scientists at the university, Stockholm Environment Institute, and National Center for Atmospheric Research that was funded by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Staff of the UC Davis Center for Aquatic Biology and Aquaculture used a model of California’s Butte Creek watershed, taking into account dams and hydro plants along the river, combined with a model of the salmon population, to test the effect of water management strategies on the Endangered Species Act protected fish. They fed in scenarios for climate change out to 2099 from models developed by NCAR in Boulder, Colo.

Researchers said in almost all scenarios the spring-run chinook died out because streams became too warm for adults to survive the summer and spawn in the fall. “The only option that preserved salmon populations, at least for a few decades, was to reduce diversions for hydropower generation at the warmest time of the year,” a statement said.

However, the study noted summer also is the peak season for energy demand in California. Director Lisa Thompson of the UC Davis center said it might be possible to generate more hydropower upstream while holding water for salmon at other locations.

“The goal should be to identify regulatory regimes which meet ecosystem objectives with minimal impact on hydropower production,” said David Purkey of the Stockholm Environment Institute’s Davis office.

Thompson said there are options that remain to be fully tested, such as storing cold water upstream and releasing it into the river during a heat wave. “That would both help fish and create a surge of hydropower,” the statement said.

A hydro project on Butte Creek, Pacific Gas & Electric’s the 26.4-MW DeSabla-Centerville project, has been under fire by environmental and fishing groups that contend low stream flows, warm water temperatures and pathogenic outbreaks have killed thousands of salmon in summer and early fall before they had a chance to spawn.

Weir being used to study salmon at Elwha Dam

At Elwha Dam, on the Elwha River in Washington, researchers are using a 200-foot-long temporary fish weir to study salmon populations in advance of the planned removal of this dam.

Elwha and Glines Canyon Dam upstream, built in 1913 and 1927 respectively, are being removed to restore runs of chinook and steelhead trout in Olympic National Park. Puget Sound chinook and steelhead are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Both dams impound water for 12-MW powerhouses.

To learn about salmon populations before the dam removal, researchers with the Northwest Fisheries Science Center and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife installed the temporary weir 5 miles downstream from Elwha Dam in late August 2010.

The resistance board floating weir is 48.5 meters wide and 6.1 meters long. Its panels are made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe, attached at their bases to a steel substrate rail. Resistance boards, made of foam insulation between pieces of marine-grade plywood, are attached to the downstream end of the panel. There are four adult salmonid traps, with three in the upstream direction (to capture upstream migrating fish) and one in the downstream direction (to capture downstream migrating fish). High-density polyethylene pipe “curtains” are installed between the traps and river banks.

Data collected from captured fish includes species, sex, spawn condition, fork length, presence of a coded-wire tag or passive integrated transponder tag, fin mark, scale samples and DNA samples.

The weir was operated from early September to early October in 2010 and was to operate from February to October in 2011. Results from the 2010 research indicated eight species of fish were captured, all within the first two weeks of weir operation. A total of 492 fish were capture, with the majority (nearly 94 percent) being chinook salmon.

The current estimated number of adult salmonid returns is 3,000 summer/fall chinook, 1,800 winter steelhead and less than 100 summer steelhead. Through restoration of the river and introduction of some hatchery fish, salmon populations are expected to increase to pre-dam levels of 400,000 spawning each year by 2039.

EPRI adding office and lab space to research facility

EPRI has purchased 108,000 square feet of office and lab space on 24 acres adjacent to its research facility at University Research Park in Charlotte, N.C.

EPRI plans to expand its lab space by 15,000 square feet and provide space for local workforce growth over the next five years. The newly acquired building also will provide conference and meeting space to support EPRI’s collaborative research and development programs.

The research and testing facility has operated since 1980 and employs professionals who conduct research and development programs in electric transmission, nuclear and fossil power generation.

EPRI is headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif., and has facilities in Knoxville, Tenn., and Lenox, Mass.

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