Among the 22 advanced water power projects that will share up to $14.6 million in DOE funding is a grid-related initiative at the Palo Alto, CA-based Electric Power Research Institute

EPRI will use a $1.5 million award to quantify and maximize the benefits provided by conventional and pumped storage hydroelectric projects to transmission grids.

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In announcing its investment in water power technologies, DOE Secretary Steven Chu touted hydropower as the nation’s largest renewable energy source.

“Hydropower provides our nation with emissions-free, sustainable energy,” Chu said. “By improving hydropower technology, we can maximize what is already our biggest source of renewable energy in an environmentally responsible way.”

The projects selected are designed to advance the commercial viability, market acceptance, and environmental performance for new marine and hydrokinetic technologies as well as conventional hydropower plants, according to the DOE.

The award recipients rang from industry giants such as Lockheed Martin to a small public utility district in Washington State.

Lockheed Martin received two awards, both for up to $500,000. One is to develop and describe designs, performance and life-cycle costs for both the nearshore and offshore Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) baseline cost figures. The other is for developing a GIS-based dataset and software tool to assess the maximum practicably extractable energy from the global and domestic U.S. ocean thermal resource and identify regions viable for OTEC and Cold Seawater Based Air Conditioning.

Public Utility District 1 of Snohomish County, WA, will receive up to $600,000 to determine the types of aquatic species in Admiralty Inlet and baseline levels of background noise as well as the acoustic impacts that hydrokinetic turbines will have on these species.

A wide variety of projects from coast to coast received funding. For a complete list, see the DOE announcement linked below.

Quick Take: In the Smart Grid discussion, water doesn’t typically get much attention. But as we increase our dependence on electricity, it is worth noting that electric power generation is second only to agriculture as the largest user of water in the U.S., sucking up 40% of the nation’s freshwater withdrawals every day. (Source: Sandia National Laboratory) We suspect the next decade may bring a violent collision between competing uses for water and may be what drives adoption of a smarter supply-demand infrastructure — for power and water.

DOE announcement

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