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CEATI releases report on headgate testing protocols

CEATI International Inc. has released Hydraulic Station Headgate Testing Protocols.

CEATI conducted a study to develop a protocol for headgate testing practices that are useful for hydro plant owners and operators. This report details the results of that study.

The ability to shut off flows at hydroelectric stations is necessary for safe and reliable facility operation, the report says. While most hydroelectric facilities have wicket gates as the primary turbine water shutoff device, the majority also have headgates that allow dewatered turbine maintenance. Many of these headgates also serve as a backup if the turbine wicket gates fail to close properly.

Testing these headgates and their operating and control equipment is one of the best methods of confirming their ability to function when needed, the report says.

This report was developed by CEATI's Hydraulic Plant Life Interest Group. This group is comprised of more than 40 utilities joined together through CEATI to share their experiences and to address issues pertinent to their day-to-day operations.

– To inquire about purchasing this report, visit www.ceati.com and search for publication number T082700 0359.

CEC to fund study on climate change, hydropower

The California Energy Commission (CEC) has awarded $582,685 for research projects, including one that will look at the effects of climate change on hydropower projects.

Funds for the four research projects come from the commission's Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program, the commission reported.

CEC approved $299,970 to the University of California at Davis to look at the effects of climate change on hydropower operations and their environmental impact downstream. More than 300 hydro projects in California are regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

The UC Davis team will conduct a climate change environmental study for the 362-MW Yuba River Development Project. A new license for the Yuba River project is scheduled to be filed by 2014.

The study's main goal is to develop methods and tools that can be used to analyze hydro projects that are being relicensed. The research will also help support incorporating climate change data in the future licensing of hydropower projects before FERC.

Project under way to inform hydro investment decisions

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is working on a Hydropower Advancement Project, using funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

For many owners of hydro facilities, particularly those with smaller facilities, it is difficult to understand or quantify the return on investment of analyzing opportunities to improve efficiency and upgrade capacity, says Brennan T. Smith, PhD, an engineer with ORNL. However, upgrading existing facilities and adding capacity to non-powered dams are the "lowest-hanging fruit" when it comes to investment decisions.

Recognizing this, ORNL designed the Hydropower Advancement Project to promote the application of advanced hydropower technology through an assessment, upgrade design, and upgrade demonstration process. The goal is to increase capacity, efficiency, and environmental performance at existing plants and add power facilities to non-powered dams, Smith says.

The project will take place in phases:

– Develop a publicly available best practices catalog with regard to operating and maintaining hydro projects and understanding the opportunities for upgrading. The catalog will cover operational efficiencies (unit scheduling), civil and mechanical structures, balance of plant equipment, and electrical components.

– Develop an assessment manual that provides a process for assessing the possibilities of upgrading a project, including choosing team members, conducting the assessment, and identifying opportunities for increased efficiency, energy, or ancillary services.

– Perform demonstration assessments at hydro facilities, with the goal of testing and refining the manual.

– Choose three to five teams across the U.S. to perform the assessment on about ten projects per team, using the manual. The result will be as many as 50 assessment reports prepared using a standardized method. ORNL will aggregate the information received, identify trends, and develop predictive capabilities.

– Solicit the 50 projects assessed to propose engineering studies of upgrade costs and benefits, to be co-funded by DOE. About five of these projects will be selected for funding and will provide publicly available case studies.

Funding for the Hydropower Advancement Project consists of $13.5 million over three years, starting in 2009.

Report details results of Glen Canyon Dam experiments

Results of three high-flow experiments conducted at Glen Canyon Dam are documented in Effects of Three High-Flow Experiments on the Colorado River Ecosystem Downstream from Glen Canyon Dam, Arizona.

The U.S. Department of the Interior conducted high-flow events at Glen Canyon Dam in March 2008, November 2004, and March 1996. High-flow events increase both sandbar area and volume when they are conducted soon after "new" sand has been supplied to the system by flooding from downstream tributaries, says Dr. Ted Melis, author of the report and deputy chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center. These sandbars provide habitat for wildlife, serve as camping beaches for recreationists, and supply sand that may preserve vegetation and help protect archaeological sites. High flows also create areas of low-velocity flow used by young native fish.

According to the report, the best possibility for rebuilding and maintaining sandbars along the river is to time high-flow events to follow the seasonal flooding of tributaries downstream of the dam. Sandbars are built relatively quickly (hours to a few days) when new sand is available, but they also tend to erode within days to several months under normal dam operations. Despite this ongoing erosion, long-term monitoring indicates that about 75 percent of sandbars downstream of the dam were larger in October 2008 than they were before the first high-flow event was conducted.

The report is a product of the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program, a federally authorized initiative to ensure the mandate of the Grand Canyon Protection Act of 1992 is met through advances in information and resource management. The Bureau of Reclamation, which owns 1,312-MW Glen Canyon Dam, provides financial support for the program.

– To download the report, visit the Internet: http://pubs.usgs.gov/circ/1366.

Study to identify hydro potential in irrigation canals

Colorado State University and engineering firm Applegate Group Inc. are collaborating to review the potential power that could be generated using low-head turbines in irrigation canals in Colorado.

Three million acres of land are irrigated in the state. Water in irrigation canals moves fast enough to provide a capacity of 100 kW to 2 MW.

Dan Zimmerle, research scientist and adjunct mechanical engineering professor, and water resource engineer Lindsay George are heading the study. They are examining turbines that could generate power from an elevation drop in an irrigation canal of 5 feet to 30 feet, such as water diversion structures or chutes. They also are investigating how to connect that power to the electric grid.

As part of this work, Zimmerle and George are conducting an inventory of irrigation canals in Colorado and surveying about 250 ditch companies and ditch operators around the state.

The final result of this study will be a report on the total amount of power that could be produced using low-head and hydrokinetic turbines in irrigation canals in Colorado, George says.

This study is being funded through a $50,000 grant as part of Advancing Colorado's Renewable Energy Program to promote energy-related projects beneficial to Colorado's agriculture industry.

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