Competition aims to improve reliability in hydropower facilities

24 March 2021

The US Bureau of Reclamation has launched the Automated Maintenance of Protection Systems Challenge with a prize pool of $250,000 with the aim to make hydropower systems more reliable by automating maintenance testing of protective relays and associated potential and current transformers.

"Current testing protocols are labor-intensive and often require the hydropower plant to be offline," said Senior Advisor for Hydropower Max Spiker. "The solutions will assist Reclamation hydropower facilities and other systems with protective relays to reduce downtime, increase plant safety and save time employees spend on testing."

The first phase of the competition will consist of solvers submitting a paper to demonstrate their knowledge of the problem, the approach they will use to solve the problem and describe how they will develop a prototype. Up to ten solutions will be selected to continue to the second phase of the competition and receive $10,000 each. The papers are due on September 3, 2021. 

In the second phase, the solvers will develop their prototype, and Reclamation will test them. The overall winner will receive up to $100,000 and have the potential for a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement or other technology transfer agreement to refine their solution further. 

Reclamation is partnering with the Western Area Power Administration, Bonneville Power Administration, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Energy—s Water Power Technologies Office, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, NASA Tournament Lab, and Arrow Electronics on this prize competition. 

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