Natel Energy has successfully completed the Monroe Hydro Project in Oregon, US, with the installation of its 1MW class D190 Restoration Hydro Turbine (RHT), with the project receiving 100% safe fish passage test results from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL).

The Monroe project in Madras is a first-of-its-kind design making use of an existing irrigation canal and a new fish safe turbine technology to generate reliable, renewable energy. With the installation of the commercially released 1 MW class D190 RHT, the site will now contribute 100% renewable energy to the local grid. Grant funding from the Department of Energy's Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) supported the development of the RHT, and the fish passage testing that was conducted by PNNL. 

"We are thrilled with the successful completion of the Monroe Hydro Project, marking our second commercial installation of Restoration Hydro Turbines," said Gia Schneider, CEO of Natel Energy. "Ensuring successful fish passage is a fundamental challenge for hydropower developers and operators, and the results of this testing are ground-breaking for low-head deployment. The 100% safe fish passage results achieved in the testing by PNNL marks a new milestone that solidifies the RHT as delivering fish safety without compromising on energy output."

The RHT is a compact propeller-style turbine with specially designed blades that allow large fish to pass safely. In September 2020, PNNL conducted turbine passage tests that revealed a 100% survival rate for rainbow trout up to 400mm (15 inches) long passing downstream through the 1.9m diameter D190 RHT.  

Over the course of testing, the gross head at the site was approximately 5.2m, and the turbine produced approximately 300kW electrical output. With the support of the WPTO, PNNL scientists and engineers used Sensor Fish, RFID tag, radio tag, and balloon tag technologies to assess physical turbine stressors and enable the recovery of all fish after their passage through the turbine. Each fish was carefully inspected after passing through the turbine, and no evidence of passage related injuries was observed. This is surprisingly good performance given the compactness of the turbine relative to the large size of fish tested.

At less than 2m in diameter, the RHT is the most compact turbine that has demonstrated this successful survival rate for large fish, said Natel Energy.