Tech Briefs

Report identifies 1.5 million MWh of potential at Reclamation sites

The U.S. Department of Interior has released a report that identifies 373 existing Bureau of Reclamation canals and conduits with the combined potential to generate an additional 365,219 MWh of hydroelectric power annually.

The 2012 report, titled “Site Inventory and Hydropower Energy Assessment of Reclamation Owned Conduits,” supplements a 2011 report, titled “Hydropower Resource Assessment at Existing Reclamation Facilities,” which identified 191 existing sites with a potential for 1.2 million MWh annually.

“Hydropower is an important part of President Obama’s initiative to generate 80% of electricity in this country from a diverse set of clean energy sources by 2035,” says Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. “Identifying and developing hydropower at existing facilities is one way we’re putting the all-of-the-above strategy to develop American energy sources into practice.”

The newest report shows about 70% of the potential capacity is in Colorado, Oregon and Wyoming, although 13 of the 17 “western” states have new generation potential from conduits.

Reclamation says the assessment provides private developers with the information they need before considering a site for development. The report includes the capacity, site maps, energy potential, and proximity to distribution and transmission lines.

Development at the sites would proceed along Reclamation’s Lease of Power Privilege process or the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s licensing process, depending on which entity has jurisdiction over a project.

Corps releases paper on aquatic nuisance controls

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announces availability of “Inventory of Available Controls for Aquatic Nuisance Species of Concern – Chicago Area Waterway System,” intended to provide tools for controlling aquatic nuisance species.

This paper contains 90 tools in 27 categories that may prove effective in preventing the 39 aquatic nuisance species of concern from transferring through the aquatic pathways in the Chicago Area Waterway System, as well as other potential aquatic pathways. Ten of these 39 species are of concern for potential transfer to the Great Lakes Basin and 29 are of concern for potential transfer to the Mississippi River Basin.

The 90 identified controls were selected based on literature, scientific analysis and professional judgment. Each control poses minimal risk to human health and safety and is either currently available or in research and development. Examples include manual harvesting, hydrological separation, ac-celerated water velocity, pheromones, ultraviolet light, acoustic fish deterrents and ultrasound.

The paper does not contain specific recommendations, rank the effectiveness of these controls or identify constraints, regulatory requirements or technological feasibility of application.

Next steps to be taken by scientists with the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study, which developed the paper, are to develop screening criteria consistent with the study objectives and to refine the inventory of controls to determine which warrant further consideration, says Johnna Potthoff, technology team lead.

– The paper can be accessed online at

Collecting bathymetric data for a hydro project impact model

When developers were studying the possibility of building the 70-MW Cascade Creek project in southeast Alaska, they needed to assess the potential impact of this development on fish and the environment. Thus, potential developer Cascade Creek LLC commissioned completion of a bathymetric survey of the two lakes involved.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game required volumetric mapping of the lakes, which local residents use for fishing and recreation. The department was interested in baseline data, such as whether the proposed operations would alter habitat at the inlet delta and connectivity to fish spawning areas in the headwater stream or whether operations at the headwater lake would alter the littoral zone habitat downstream.

Cascade Creek, which is owned by Alaska Hydro Corp., hired OASIS Environmental Inc. of Anchorage, Alaska, to conduct wildlife, fisheries and vegetation studies. OASIS partnered with YSI Integrated Systems and Services of St. Petersburg, Fla., to conduct the bathymetry study of the two lakes, as well as a tidal study near the powerhouse construction site to assess potential dredging requirements.

The bathymetry model required high-resolution data, down to 1 foot contours, to accurately assess the lake features down to 40 feet. YSI used its EcoMapper autonomous underwater vehicle, which features side-scan sonar and a SonTek Doppler velocity log. The 4-foot, self-propelled vehicle does not require a boat, meaning the operator can work from shore. In areas without suitable shoreline habitat from which to work, YSI used a human-powered jon boat.

One person acquired terrestrial GPS positions while another entered coordinates and routes into a laptop to program the EcoMapper’s mission. They launched the EcoMapper to collect bathymetric data. The vehicle also continuously collected water quality parameters, including dissolved oxygen, pH, turbidity, chlorophyll, temperature and specific conductance. And water column profiling was conducted in deeper waters to assess salinity and temperature gradients, which affect the speed of sound and thus the accuracy of the bathymetry measurements.

Personnel spent five days collecting data: three days mapping the bathymetry of the intermediate lake, one day at the delta of the headwater lake and one day in the tidal area. YSI downloaded the data, compiled field notes and provided quality assurance/quality control on the raw data before sending the datasets to OASIS.

OASIS then performed further analysis and data visualization, using software to create three-dimensional subaquatic elevation models.

The result is an accurate, comprehensive view of the remote lakes that the hydroelectric developers and agencies can use for environmental impact assessments, YSI says.

Lucid Energy unveils in-pipe generating unit

Renewable technology firm Lucid Energy unveiled its new LucidPipe Power System and launched its Lucid Energy Center of Excellence.

The Oregon-based company’s LucidPipe system – developed in conjunction with Honeywell, CH2M Hill, JCI, Northwest Pipe Co. and the U.S. Department of Energy – is a spherical in-pipe turbine unit that generates electricity from large-diameter water and wastewater transmission pipelines. Municipal water utilities in Riverside, Calif., and Portland, Ore., have shown interest in the technology.

About 80 people attended the opening of the center in Riverside, which was held on May 3, including representatives of Siemens, HDR, Veolia Water and CH2M Hill. Similar centers are to be established in Texas and New York.

The unveiling was held April 26 at the Lemona Booster Station in Riverside.

Control room upgrade allows greater flexibility at Noxon Rapids

The recent upgrade of the control room for the 456-MW-MW Noxon Rapids project allowed owner Avista Utilities to improve flexibility for control room operators, the utility says.

Noxon Rapids, on the Clark Fork River in Montana, has been generating power for more than 50 years. For its first significant control room upgrade – making the transition from electromechanical to digital controls – Avista chose technology supplied by Winsted Corp. of Minneapolis.

A significant aspect of this upgrade was the design and installation of a new control room console. From this console, operators start and stop the units and control the flow of water over the spillway. However, because Avista commonly uses its control room as a training facility for apprentices, they needed to be able to comfortably fit two operators at the console when needed, says Alan Lackner, plant manager for the Clark Fork River.

After investigating several options, Avista settled on a console that features Winsted’s Versa-Trak horizontal track system. The work surface allows a wide variety of monitor arrays, and the universal mount system is flexible enough to accommodate future changes to the monitors. The console base includes front and rear doors for easy access to rack-mount equipment and CPUs, Lackner says, and features fans to prevent overheating. And the cable raceway keeps critical connections hidden from view.

For durability over the possibly 50-year lifespan of this control system, Avista chose a Corian work surface.

The new system has been operating since the spring of 2010. Avista also is working with Winsted to install a new control room console at the company’s 265-MW Cabinet Gorge plant.

Gilkes manufacturing opening North American office

Small hydropower manufacturer Gilbert Gilkes & Gordon Ltd. announces it will open a new office in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, to support existing and future projects for North America.

The England-based company says this office will initially be staffed by members of its U.K. office but eventually include locally recruited members as well.

“We hope the proximity of the office to an active hydropower area will give our customers better service from a sales, technical and support point of view,” Managing Director Nick Pike says.

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