Bureau of Reclamation Banner

Feasibility of Integrating Low-Head Hydropower with Effective Canal Management

Project ID: 7973
Principal Investigator: Josh Mortensen
Research Topic: Improved Power Generation
Funded Fiscal Years: 2013
Keywords: None

Research Question

The main objective of this research is to determine if low-head hydropower operation can be feasibly integrated into a canal management scheme that effectively responds to fluctuating demands for water delivery.

Effective canal operation continues to be challenging as water accountability tightens and water demands fluctuate on a daily basis. Operation may become even more complex when low-head hydropower structures are added to the system. While there is significant potential for additional energy from Reclamation canals, (as recently reported in Reclamation's "Site Inventory and Hydropower Energy Assessment of Reclamation Owned Conduits") effective integration of low head hydropower facilities and primary water delivery requires further analysis.

This study will use Reclamation's Gila Gravity Main Canal (GGMC) in the Lower Colorado Region as a case study to look at conjunctive use of hydropower and water delivery. This canal is an ideal site for this type of study because it is a typical canal that has additional hydraulic energy that could potentially be used for hydropower (see Table 7, "Site Inventory and Hydropower Energy Assessment of Reclamation Owned Conduits"). The physical canal system will be used in conjunction with physical hydrokinetic generation units and computer modeling tools to test various scenarios of canal operation.

The objective of this research is to determine the operational feasibility of using low-head hydropower generation in conjunction with routine canal operation of water conveyance and distribution.

Need and Benefit

Several canal systems throughout Reclamation have hydropower potential. However this potential will never be reached if the primary objective of delivering water is compromised as a result. Low-head hydropower on water conveyance systems is a relatively new field and while many new technologies are being developed their impact on the performance of the overall system is still vague. Results from a full scale physical canal system combined with a numerical model will help answer many questions regarding the feasibility of low-head hydropower generation on water delivery systems.

Contributing Partners

None

Research Products

Bureau of Reclamation Review

The following documents were reviewed by experts in fields relating to this project's study and findings. The results were determined to be achieved using valid means.

Hydrokinetic Impact Study Update - 2013 (interim, PDF, 3.2MB)
By Josh Mortensen
Report completed on May 30, 2014

Includes preliminary shakedown data from field testing at the Roza Main Canal and Power Plant. This data will be using to calibrate a numerical model for future predictions of hydraulic impacts from hydrokinetic devices.
Keywords: canal, power plant, hydrokinetic turbine, power generation

This information was last updated on October 20, 2014
Contact the Research and Development Office with questions or comments about this page