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U.S. Department of Energy Partners with Eaton to Advance Hydropower Generation

 

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Power management company Eaton announced it is helping advance energy resiliency for the national power grid through a U.S. Department of Energy funded initiative to deploy new hydropower generation at existing non-powered dams and waterways. Under the second stage of the contract awarded in 2017, Eaton will manufacture and test new, low-cost integrated hydropower turbine and generator sets to help enhance the cost-effectiveness of new hydropower generation facilities.

The Department of Energy project leverages Eaton's Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence, automotive supercharger innovation and expansive electrical engineering services experience in small-scale hydropower projects.

"According to Energy Department assessments, more than 50 gigawatts of potential capacity remains untapped at existing small-scale hydropower sites, which is a huge potential resource for renewable energy," said David Yee, principal engineer, Eaton research and technology. "Eaton is leveraging decades of manufacturing and engineering expertise to help innovate hydro turbine technology to improve economics in small-scale hydropower applications and make renewable power more accessible to developers."

The initial phase of this project was awarded in 2014 and focused on turbine design, analysis and optimization. As part of that phase, Eaton performed a system architecture and trade study to establish component sizing to help optimize system cost, performance and versatility for non-powered dam sites in the U.S. During the second phase of the project, awarded in 2017, Eaton is building and testing a scaled-down prototype of the turbine and generator. This phase is expected to be complete in 2018.

The project will help the U.S. Department of Energy's Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) advance technology to grow and modernize the U.S. hydropower fleet and promote U.S. leadership in hydropower. Eaton will employ additive manufacturing processes and innovate new products to help lower engineering costs and the overall cost of energy for hydropower facilities. Project findings will benefit numerous groups, including power producing asset owners and managers by contributing to more efficient and diverse technologies; electrical power consumers, who will have access to more reliable power sources; and companies involved in new power projects, who can grow their businesses by adding generation capacity to non-powered dams.

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