New Hydroelectric Turbine Design Aims To Improve Fish Passage At Snake River Dams
For years, engineers with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have worked to design a hydroelectric turbine that’s safer for fish. They’ve recently installed a new design that’s improving energy efficiency and improving fish survival along the Snake River, with plans to upgrade more turbines over the next several years.
The Army Corps installed the first of two designs at Ice Harbor Dam, just outside the Tri-Cities in southeastern Washington. A second blade design should be finished in 2021.
“It really is a new generation of turbine design for our hydropower system,” said the Corps’ Martin Ahmann. He’s helped to design these new turbines for most of his career.
This new turbine has been shown to increase juvenile fish survival rate to more than 98%.
“It allows us in the future, an opportunity to reduce our dependency on spill, fish passage and the need for screening our turbine intake to keep fish out of the turbines,” Ahmann said. “We see this as a viable passage route for juvenile salmon.”
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington, used specially-designed mechanical fish, known as sensor fish, to test the pressure and blade strikes that fish could experience. Designers also tested the turbine blades with live fish, Ahmann said.
The new design will also increase energy efficiency by four percent – that’s enough to power 3,000 homes.
“Improvements that we make for fish generally result in improved efficiency for power,” Ahmann said.
The first turbine design is what’s known as a fixed-blade turbine, which works much like a boat propeller, Ahmann said. The second design will feature an adjustable blade design, where the blades on the propeller pitch to make the turbine more efficient.
The Army Corps plans on installing 14 new turbines at McNary Dam and 16 turbines at John Day Dam — both on the Columbia River — over the next several years.
If you want to attend public hearings on the federal government’s plan to manage the Columbia and Snake River dams, you’ll have to do it by phone. The previously scheduled in-person meetings are now teleconferences. Continue Reading Meetings On Future Of Snake River Dams Now Teleconferences: Here’s How To Access
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation and Bonneville Power Administration laid out a range of six alternatives in a draft environmental impact statement. The most controversial measure would have been to remove or alter the four Lower Snake River dams. Continue Reading Draft Federal Plan Recommends Keeping Lower Snake River Dams In Place
More than 300 people showed up to hear speakers talk about why it’s important to either keep or alter the dams. The panel stems from a Washington state study that will guide the state’s position on dam removal. Continue Reading Dams Vs. Salmon: Workshops Aim To Get Past ‘My Study Can Beat Up Your Study’ On Snake River