Hydropower Program

Research and Development

Reclamation's research program, though aimed primarily at satisfying agency mission-related objectives, also makes major contributions to the solution of national and international power and water resources problems. The research proposed leads to innovation and to increased efficiency, safety, productivity, and resource utilization of all Reclamation's power programs.

Reclamation conducts scientific and engineering investigations in six major areas:

Environmental Restoration and Enhancement
Research in water quality; desalting; aquatic ecology; fish protection and management; aquatic weed control; and hazardous waste handling, containment, and cleanup.
Research for improving the environmental compatibility of hydropower operations relative to instream flows, water quality, fish and wildlife, and river bank erosion.
Water Supply Alternatives
Structural alternatives--groundwater, surface water, hydraulic control, and water measurement system improvements.
Nonstructural alternatives--water augmentation, conservation, and other alternatives.
Resource Optimization
Basinwide reservoir operations and management, optimizing all of the values of a basinwide system to include power, water supply, recreation, water quality, and environment.
New Methods and Materials
Research in technologies for design and construction of new facilities, and maintenance, rehabilitation, and modification of existing facilities. Includes research for dam safety.
Development of new operation and maintenance techniques to improve efficiency and performance of facilities.
Development of new testing techniques for evaluation of material properties and control of construction materials.
Power Systems
Development of power apparatus, controls, automation systems, and other devices for enhanced operation and maintenance of powerplants and other power facilities, resulting in reduction of costs and improved system reliability, stability, and safety.
Renewable energy technologies and new energy storage systems will continue to be evaluated and/or developed for application to Reclamation projects.
System stability-related research will be performed to ensure and enhance power system security and stability, fully utilize generating capability, and maximize system efficiencies.
Development of new and improved methods of analysis, testing, and maintenance to increase reliability, extend equipment life, and reduce associated operation and maintenance costs.
Reclamation cooperates with EPRI and other utilities in research on the effects of exposure to electric and magnetic fields, real-time power system control, higher capacity transmission options, and high capacity power electronics.
Global Climate Change
Support of programs for the development of strategies to respond to predicted effects of climate change on the availability of water supplies and the demand for water.

For additional information, see the Research and Development Office homepage.

Last Updated: 8/30/16