The U.S. Department of Energy, through its Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO), and Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to enhance collaboration on hydropower technology development.

Under the MOU, joint efforts will focus on evaluating and demonstrating different approaches for operating hydropower plants to meet the electricity grid’s changing needs.

WPTO and its national laboratory partners will focus on quantifying the value hydropower and pumped storage facilities provide to the electricity grid and applying advanced modeling to predict the effects of climate change on TVA’s hydropower systems. They will also work to understand how fleetwide data can inform plant-level decisions, such as when to conduct maintenance activities.

TVA will focus on techniques and technologies that allow its hydropower system to adapt to the changing needs of the Tennessee Valley and the broader electricity industry. This may involve demonstrations of more mature technologies anticipated for near-term, utility-scale deployment. TVA’s hydroelectric system comprises 29 power-generating dams throughout the Tennessee River system and a pumped storage plant near Chattanooga, Tenn. TVA’s generation portfolio is 11% hydropower.

WPTO Director Jennifer Garson said hydropower has a crucial role to play in achieving the U.S.’s clean energy goals, but strategies for operating those plants will have to evolve as more renewable energy resources come onto the grid.

“TVA is a pioneer in clean hydropower technology — completing our first energy-producing dam in Norris, Tenn., in 1936, and investing today in our hydroelectric fleet to build the energy system of the future that will help continue to reduce carbon emissions,” said Dr. Joe Hoagland, vice president, TVA Innovation & Research. “We appreciate this partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy as we look to advance hydropower technologies that will not only provide affordable, reliable, resilient, and sustainable energy, but also bring jobs and investment to the seven-state region we serve.”

Over the next six months, WPTO and TVA will develop an action plan that outlines their joint efforts.

TVA is a corporate agency of the U.S. that provides electricity for business customers and local power companies, serving nearly 10 million people in parts of seven southeastern states. In addition to operating and investing its revenues in its electric system, TVA provides flood control, navigation and land management for the Tennessee River system and assists local power companies and state and local governments with economic development and job creation.

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