Oregon State University is part of a U.S. Department of Energy effort to improve the country’s hydro-electric system, which contains many dams around 100 years old.  OSU Professor of Electrical Engineering Ted Brekken said his work is focused on making hydro-power more efficient, now that wind and solar power are also part of the grid.

“Taking the hydro system and adding some amount of energy storage capability, so that when this other generation comes up suddenly - whereas before, the hydro system would have to reduce the amount of power that it’s produced - now, it can still keep producing the amount of power it was producing before, but it will take that extra energy and will store it.”

He equates it to a hybrid car that stores excess energy for later use.

“Hydro turbines that traditionally operated just with the water flow - which they do a fantastic job of - but they are old systems. So, we are looking at augmenting that hydro turbine with an additional electric generator and battery capability.”

At the end of the three-year project, Brekken hopes to have a scaled demonstration model, with the research eventually shared with the Army Corps of Engineers.


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