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Title: Use of an autonomous sensor to evaluate the biological performance of the advanced turbine at Wanapum Dam

Hydropower is the largest renewable energy resource in the United States and the world. However, hydropower dams have adverse ecological impacts because migrating fish may be injured or killed when they pass through hydroturbines. In the Columbia and Snake River basins, dam operators and engineers are required to make those hydroelectric facilities more fish-friendly through changes in hydroturbine design and operation after fish population declines and the subsequent listing of several species of Pacific salmon under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Public Utility District No. 2 of Grant County, Washington, requested authorization from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to replace the ten turbines at Wanapum Dam with advanced hydropower turbines designed to improve survival for fish passing through the turbines while improving operation efficiency and increasing power generation. As an additional measure to the primary metric of direct injury and mortality rates of juvenile Chinook salmon using balloon tag-recapture methodology, this study used an autonomous sensor device - the Sensor Fish - to provide insight into the specific hydraulic conditions and physical stresses experienced by the fish as well as the specific causes of fish biological response. We found that the new hydroturbine blade shape and the corresponding reductionmore » of turbulence in the advanced hydropower turbine were effective in meeting the objectives of improving fish survival while enhancing operational efficiency of the dam. The frequency of severe events based on Sensor Fish pressure and acceleration measurements showed trends similar to those of fish survival determined by the balloon tag-recapture methodology. In addition, the new turbine provided a better pressure and rate of pressure change environment for fish passage. Altogether, the Sensor Fish data indicated that the advanced hydroturbine design improved passage of juvenile salmon at Wanapum Dam.« less
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  1. Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 2; Journal Issue: 5; Journal ID: ISSN 1941-7012
American Institute of Physics (AIP)
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC)
Country of Publication:
United States
13 HYDRO ENERGY; 54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; hydropower; dams; advanced turbine; fish passage; sensor fish device
OSTI Identifier: