Engineers at Oregon State University in the US have created a new computer modeling package that it says could improvement the assessment of small scale hydropower potential in the developing world.
The system has been designed to be easy to use; does not require data that is often unavailable in foreign countries or remote locations; and can consider hydropower potential not only now, but in the future as projected changes in climate and stream runoff occur.
The new technology was field-tested at a 5MW small-scale hydropower facility built in the early 1980s on Falls Creek in the central Oregon Cascade Range. At that site, it projected that future climate changes will shift its optimal electricity production from spring to winter and that annual hydropower potential will slightly decrease from the conditions that prevailed from 1980-2010.
Most previous tools used to assess specific sites for their small-scale hydropower potential have not been able to consider the impacts of future changes in weather and climate, OSU researchers said, and are far too dependent on data that is often unavailable in developing nations.
This free, open source software program was developed by Thomas Mosier, who at the time was a graduate student at OSU, in collaboration with Sharp and David Hill, an OSU associate professor of coastal and ocean engineering. It is now available to anyone on request by contacting [email protected]
Findings on the new assessment tool have been published in Renewable Energy, in work supported by the National Science Foundation.