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Policy Statement 442 - Advanced Water Power Generation


Approved by the Energy, Environment, and Water Policy Committee on January 22, 2019
Approved by the Public Policy Committee on April 28, 2019
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 13, 2019


The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) supports a program to demonstrate the commercial viability and environmental benefits of advanced conventional hydro turbines (fish-friendly turbines), and to demonstrate the commercial, technical, and environmental feasibility of innovative new water-power systems such as marine and hydrokinetic technologies.


From 1995 to 2008, the United States Department of Energy (DOE) funded a research and development program for advances in hydro turbine technology. The specific objectives of this industry cost-shared program were to design, develop and test new or improved turbines for both large and small hydro units, with the primary goal of enhancing environmental performance by improving fish passage. Design and testing of the DOE advanced hydropower research program was completed in 2010. Results included the development, testing, and deployment of an aeration turbine and the minimum gap runner turbine, and proof-of-concept testing for the fish-friendly turbine. Efforts to deploy the fish-friendly turbine are still being made by industry.

In 2015, the DOE initiated the Biologically-based Design and Evaluation project, a collaboration between Pacific Northwest and Oak Ridge National Laboratories, to continue the development and commercialization of instruments and tools for turbine design and evaluation. The DOE needs to demonstrate the commercial and fish-protection viability of the turbine to ensure the ultimate acceptance of the turbine by the resource and regulatory agencies, non-governmental organizations, and the hydropower industry.

Unlocking the vast hydropower potential of our rivers, oceans, tides, and conduits requires funding research and development initiatives that make innovative ideas a reality. The DOE's Water Power Technologies Office is an important source of support for the researchers, scientists, and developers working to grow hydropower's contribution to our country's clean-energy resources.


ASCE recognizes the need to address environmental performance at existing dams and hydroelectric facilities. Research and development, demonstration, and deployment in this area has significant potential to enhance fish survival and increase water use efficiency and power output and improve the quality of released water. 

ASCE Policy Statement 442
First Approved in 1995