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Hydropower provides 6-8% of the United States electricity, and the U.S. Department of Energy sees plenty of room for potential growth. But it isn't a matter of just generating more power. To be successful in the future, new and existing hydropower systems need to be more efficient, more cost effective, and weave environmental sustainability into every facet, from turbine design to operations.

More than 40 researchers within PNNL's hydrology, ecology, coastal sciences, materials, and power systems groups work to improve the efficiency and environmental performance of the nation's largest source of renewable energy.

  •  An Alaska steeppass and false weir were used to attract fish into the system

    A Bene-fish-al Solution for Salmon and Steelhead Passage

    A team of researchers from PNNL performed an evaluation of a novel technology that helps migratory fish more safely and efficiently navigate upstream around hydroelectric dams. The team found that the technology—a combination of imaging and sensor technology and transport tubes—has the potential to successfully sort and transport migratory adult salmonids when partnered with a way for fish to enter on their own.

  • George Bonheyo leads PNNL’s biofouling research

    PNNL Scientists Keep Biofouling at Bay

    For the commercial maritime shipping industry, biofouling is the leading cause of aquatic invasive species transport. Researchers at PNNL are leading research to mitigate biofouling and its impacts on the environment and industry. In recent years, scientists at PNNL's Marine Sciences Laboratory in Sequim, WA have earned an international reputation for leading research to address this challenge.

  • Radiological Microscopy Suite Enables Innovative Nuclear Science

    Climate Events Create Compound Challenges for Electricity Planning

    As part of an international effort to better understand how future water availability could influence energy supplies, researchers from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory focused on regional hydropower. Their case study used a model called GENESYS to simulate the performance of the Pacific Northwest power system under modest climate scenarios for the year 2035.

  • Researchers Set Out to Fill Scientific Gaps of Understanding Regarding Reservoir Emissions

    Researchers Set Out to Fill Scientific Gaps of Understanding Regarding Reservoir Emissions

    Methane emissions from hydropower reservoirs in temperate climates are a poorly understood source of greenhouse gas. Researchers from PNNL studied the methane emissions of two hydropower reservoirs in Washington State to better understand this phenomenon.

  • Sturgeon

    Sturgeon, Lamprey, and Eel: Special Tags for Special Fish

    Small, long-lasting new fish tags developed by PNNL allows researchers to better study the lives of adult eels, lamprey, and sturgeon. By studying migration patterns of these species around hydropower dams, scientists can increase safe fish passage rates around waterway structures.

  • Self-Powered Fish Tags Make for Long-Lasting Research

    Self-Powered Fish Tags Make for Long-Lasting Research

    Two new fish tracking tag models using the Juvenile Salmon Acoustic Telemetry System (JSATS) are able to power themselves using the swimming motion of fish. The self-powered tags open up new possibilities for long-term fish tracking and behavior studies.

  • Self-Powered Fish Tags Make for Long-Lasting Research

    Dam Operators Keep their Cool with Cold Spray Repairs

    A PNNL partnership with the U.S. Army Research Lab and industry is developing more efficient and cost-effect way to repair damaged turbines in hydropower dams. The new method uses cold spray repair techniques that can be quickly implemented by dam operators.

  • Daniel Deng Recognized for Exceptional Engineering

    Zhiqun (Daniel) Deng Recognized for Exceptional Engineering

    Congratulations to scientist Zhiqun (Daniel) Deng, recipient of PNNL's Exceptional Engineering Achievement Award. Deng was recognized for his exceptional engineering contributions in aquatic acoustic technologies, establishing PNNL as the world's leading institution in understanding and mitigating environmental impacts of waterpower systems.

Water Power Research