R&D Forum

BPA increasing funding for tech research and development

The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) is ramping up its expenditures on research, development, and demonstration of technology in the Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS) to 0.5 percent of gross revenues. The BPA Technology Innovation annual budget (excluding capital investments and fish and wildlife) is expected to be $12 million by 2011. This will allow BPA to help address concerns regarding the aging hydro system by placing more emphasis on technology development, says Tom Murphy, project manager with BPA.

To guide decisions about the increased investment, BPA developed a Power Services Technology Roadmap. The roadmap establishes a vision for the next 20 years with regard to designing, operating, and managing the FCRPS to decrease generation costs and to manage assets in an environmentally sound manner. Contributors to the roadmap include BPA’s Power Services Division, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation.

To support the vision for the hydro system, the plan says new technologies must meet one of five targets:

When developing the roadmap, BPA identified several technologies that will be necessary to help meet its vision. These include: software tools for system performance, asset management, and on-line real-time operations; health check systems to monitor equipment operation; tools to mitigate invasive species and analyze the costs of operations; and situational awareness and visualization tools for operations.

BPA also identified research-, development-, and demonstration-related gaps between current technologies and technology applications for the future. Filling these gaps has the potential to enable the power system to respond to fluctuations in generation requirements, provide ancillary services, support the transmission system, and manage the assets, Murphy says.

BPA's next step is to rank and rate the critical technologies, to help guide future decision-making regarding investments in technology research, development, and demonstration.

– For more about the increased investment and the roadmap, contact BPA’s Public Affairs Office at (1) 800-622-4519; E-mail:

Determining the effects of hydro development on turtles

The Trent-Severn Waterway in southern Ontario is being considered for further small hydro development. However, the waterway is home to 35 species at risk, including two species of turtle. To determine movements for these turtles within segments of the Trent River, Parks Canada (which protects nationally significant examples of Canada’s natural and cultural heritage) is undertaking a research project.

There are 18 small hydro projects on the 386-kilometer-long Trent-Severn Waterway, ranging from 2 MW to 10 MW. As a result of Canada’s commitment to renewable energy development, many applications have been filed to develop new and expand existing hydro facilities along the waterway.

During the summers of 2005, 2006, and 2007, Parks Canada undertook work to determine the presence of at-risk turtle species along the waterway. A total of 560 species were identified during the study, including the northern map and common musk or stinkpot turtles.

During 2007 and 2008, the research focuses on studying the movements of at-risk turtle species, primarily the two mentioned above. The study also involves investigating the stressors and threats affecting these species. Researchers are using capture and radio tracking of these turtles to further understand the population dynamics and biogeographical influences on turtle species movement and persistence. A primary concern is whether and how the large number of locks and dams in the waterway restrict turtle movement and gene flow.

The research is being coordinated by a master's student at Laurentian University in Ontario, Canada. Work is expected to be complete by March 2009.

EPRI releases report on hydro and carbon reduction

EPRI announces availability of a new report, Hydropower in a Carbon-Constrained Future: Opportunities and Challenges. This report contains information from an EPRI-sponsored workshop, held in January 2008.

With increasing pressure to reduce carbon emissions resulting from the production of electricity, the role of hydropower in the generation mix is changing, EPRI says. EPRI held the workshop to examine the position of hydro among other generation technologies.

The report covers a range of carbon-related topics, including:

– To purchase this report, contact (1) 800-313-3774; E-mail:

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