DOE Plans To Offer Funding Opportunities For Hydro R&D

The Department of Energy (DOE) recently issued a Notice of Intent (NOI) for three funding opportunities totaling $28 million to support research, development, and deployment of hydropower, including pumped storage hydropower.

DOE intends to issue funding opportunities aimed at supporting the testing of innovative technologies, development approaches, or construction techniques to reduce time, cost, or risks associated with hydropower and pumped storage hydropower development; conduct studies to further the development and deployment of a permitted pumped storage hydropower project; and seek stakeholder insights to inform hydropower research.

The DOE said the activities should support new hydropower technology deployment, continued pumped storage hydropower project development, and efforts to better understand challenges facing the industry to help achieve the nation’s clean energy goals.

The three proposed funding opportunities are:

  • $14.5 million to encourage sustainable growth of hydropower and pumped storage hydropower technologies to support power system decarbonization, including technologies to retrofit non-powered dams. To expand diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility, the DOE said this opportunity is expected to include a topic area seeking research and development projects from entities that have not significantly engaged with DOE in the past.
  • $10 million to expand pumped storage hydropower to provide long-duration energy storage and support increased integration of variable renewable energy on the grid.
  • $4 million to support stakeholders’ efforts to understand community-level issues affecting hydropower technologies and improvements, with the goal of informing current and future hydropower research and development needs.

The NOI doesn’t specify when the Funding Opportunity Announcements are likely to be released or when applications are due.

Hydropower currently accounts for 31.5 percent of U.S. renewable electricity generation, about 6.3 percent of total electricity generation, and 93 percent of utility scale energy storage comes from pumped storage hydropower, according to the DOE.

U.S. hydropower capacity could expand by nearly 50 percent by 2050, according to the DOE's Hydropower Vision report.