Research & Development

Unlocking the vast hydropower potential of our rivers, oceans, tides and conduits requires funding the research and development initiatives that make innovative ideas a reality. The Department of Energy’s Water Power Program is an important source of support for the researchers, scientists and developers working to grow hydropower’s contribution to our country’s clean energy resources.

Continued investment in this program is crucial to ensuring that innovative new technologies come to market and are able to generate the clean electricity America needs.

Innovation in the hydropower industry also goes beyond creating new technologies. The DOE program plays an important role in gathering baseline industry data, developing updated resource assessments and new growth analyses, studying project operations for maximization of both energy and environmental values, as well as studying new issues that may affect the industry — from potential effects of climate change on plant operations to addressing the energy storage needs to maintain a secure and functioning electric grid.

Marine and hydrokinetic technologies also offer great promise for expanding our nation’s hydroelectric capacity. Working closely with the DOE’s national laboratories and the hydropower industry, the Water Power Program has established testing centers, supports modeling and component design, and maintains a publicly available database of technologies, companies and projects in the marine and hydrokinetics sector.

And the hydropower industry itself is doing its part to support investment in new technologies and project improvements. Among the hundreds of millions of dollars invested each year in environmental enhancements at hydro facilities, companies are developing a new generation of turbines that improve fish passage, generate more power, utilize water more efficiently, and improve the oxygen content of the water released downstream of a facility, among many other inventive projects.