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Hydro Review

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Independent panel to review possibility of spill experiment

The Northwest Power and Conservation Council requested that the 11-member Independent Scientific Advisory Board review a proposal to increase spill over dams on the Snake and Columbia rivers during the spring for 10 years.

NWPCC received the proposal for this spill experiment from fish and wildlife agencies, Indian tribes and the state of Oregon as a proposed amendment to its Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program. The increased spill would be conducted to determine whether it affects survival of juvenile salmon and steelhead migrating to the ocean. The proposal recommends increasing spill to 125% of the total dissolved gas level in the river below dam spillways for 10 years, with a comprehensive assessment of smolt-to-adult survival after five years.

NWPCC is including questions about the effects of spill (good and bad) on salmon, steelhead, other fish and wildlife in the river, and the river ecosystem. The council hopes to gather information for a decision that will be made this year.

Foundation funds scholarship to encourage hydro research

The U.S. Department of Energy's Golden Field Office has sponsored a grant to the Hydro Research Foundation for establishing the Hydro Research Awards Program for graduate-level students.

HRF said each award will include a tuition balance, living stipend, professorial honorarium and participation in the Hydro Research Awards Roundtables. Awards will be given to eight to 16 students who will complete their Masters or post-Masters research by May 2016, the foundation said. Applications for the program are due May 5; visit www.hydrofoundation.org/awardInfo.html for more.

"The purpose of the program is to conduct focused research related to conventional and pumped-storage hydropower, and to attract student researchers to careers in hydropower," HRF said.

Fish passage technology being tested at Roza Dam

Working with a team of fish biologists from the Yakima Nations, Whooshh Innovations is testing a new fish passage technology at the Roza Dam fish collection facility along the Yakima River in Washington.

With little pressure, migratory species are transported through a soft flexible sleeve and moved vertically and horizontally without reliance on large volumes of water. Using the singulated nature of the transport tube system, live fish can be scanned for identification and moved within hatcheries and around barriers.

At the Roza facility, live coho salmon are being moved 40 feet from a weighing and measuring table to a tanker truck for transport upstream to a hatchery. The goal of the testing is to determine whether the transport tube has any physiological impact or causes any long-term problems for the fish. The testing is being run in comparison with current handling methods of hand-carrying the fish from table to truck. The belief is that stress on live fish should be reduced using the Whooshh transport system because they are handled less and can get back to water faster.

The Yakima fish biologists will test the transport system with thousands of fish during the spring chinook run. The longer-term goal is to use this technology for fish passage, which involves determining whether the system can transport fish into reservoirs or over dams in a cost-effective and safe manner.

A test conducted in 2011 showed that stress levels between adult rainbow trout transported through the tube system and those in a control group were not significantly different.

Pumped storage may be best means of storing energy

Pumped-storage hydropower may be the best means of storing solar and wind energy on the electrical grid, according to a paper from Stanford University. The study, titled "The Energetic Implications of Curtailing Versus Storing Solar- and Wind-Generated Electricity," examines options for dealing with excess power produced by intermittent renewables and the cost effectiveness of energy storage systems.

Curtailment - shutting down solar and wind systems to reduce the production of surplus power - seems wasteful, the researchers noted, although their study showed existing battery-based storage systems are not attractive in terms of "overall energetic cost." The study defines this cost as being the total amount of fuel and electricity to operate and build an energy storage system. The researchers said the adverse by-products of battery production could actually negate the wind and solar farms they are meant to serve.

Pumped-storage hydro offers one of the highest ratios in terms of "Energy Stored on Invested" (ESOI) of any storage system examined and provides a number of ancillary benefits.

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