Wind and Hydropower Technologies

Program Areas

Wind & Water Power Program

Wind Power Technologies

The ORNL Wind Program works to improve the environmental performance of wind systems. ORNL expertise provides technical knowledge toInstitute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) Wind Power working groups that disseminate information through publication, panel sessions, and tutorial sessions to utility engineers, wind developers and wind plant designers, which help to lower cost of integration and interconnection while increasing operational efficiency of wind power plants.  

Water Power Technologies

The ORNL Water Power Program works to improve the environmental performance of hydropower systems. ORNL expertise includes modeling technology and policy impacts on the U.S. hydropower fleet, nationwide assessment of non-powered dams and streams for development, modeling the role of water constraints in power system reliability and efficiency, turbulent flow field measurement and analysis for conventional an hydrokinetic machines, technology reference models for small hydropower development, and quantification of biological responses to hydropower development and operations.

Advanced Hydropower Technology

hydropower image 1Hydroelectric power is one of the nation's most important renewable energy resources. Hydropower has significant advantages over other energy sources: it is a reliable, domestic, renewable resource with large undeveloped potential, it produces few solid wastes, and it emits essentially none of the atmospheric emissions that are of growing concern, such as nitrogen and sulfur oxides and greenhouse gases. Hydropower projects can provide substantial non-power benefits as well, including water supply, flood control, navigation, and recreation

hydropower image 2Hydropower poses unique challenges in energy development, because it combines great benefits with difficult environmental challenges. The environmental issues that most frequently confront the hydropower industry are blockage of upstream fish passage, fish injury and mortality from passage through turbines, and changes in the quality and quantity of water released below dams and diversions. ESD staff have been instrumental in identifying and mitigating these environmental impacts for more than 25 years.

hydropower image 3The Advanced Hydropower Technology (AHT) activity supports the development of technologies that will enable hydropower projects to generate more electricity with less environmental impact.

Examples of our research efforts include:

Hydropower Advancement Project
  • Application of advanced hydropower technology through an assessment, upgrade design, and upgrade demonstration process aimed at increasing hydropower capacity, efficiency, and environmental performance at existing power plants and adding power production facilities to non-powered dams. For more information please see:
National Asset and Resource Assessment
  • An assessment of the condition and performance of all federal and non-federal power plants, equipment, dams, diversions, reservoirs, non-powered dams, pumped-storage facilities and connectivity in river basins. For more information please see:
Environmental Studies
  • Conventional Hydropower investigations on stress and morality to fish from downstream passage through dams, reservoirs and turbines, the selection of environmentally effective and power efficient instream flow releases, and the amounts of greenhouse gases (GHG) emitted by hydropower reservoirs in the U.S.
  • Marine Hydrokinetics investigations on stress and mortality to fish from turbines and electro-magnetic exposure.
  • Climate Change questions are focused primarily on hydrologic variability of precipitation, temperature and runoff.
Water Optimization
  • Development of an integrated tool set of models and approaches for optimizing the operational efficiency and environmental performance of hydroelectric power plants.
Grid Services
  • Analysis of market prices for various services tabulated across the United States that hydropower resources could provide.
Marine Hydrokinetics Research and Development
  • Expertise in laboratory and field measurement of bulk and mean flow properties of turbulent flows, development of reference models for sediment, morphological and ecosystem processes prior to device deployment
  • Advance the state of the art and market penetration in ocean current energy resource assessment including synthesis of multiple sources and modalities of ocean current data, facilitation of critical site selection, efficacy of innovative energy converter techniques.

The Water Power Program 2010 Hydropower Technology Summit meetings were held in 2010 to create a forum to discuss the state of conventional hydropower regarding small hydropower development, environmental mitigation technologies and pumped-storage.

DOE Wind & Water Power Program