DOE seeks climate change data to support hydropower operations

Climate Change Weather

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) is seeking comments from the non-federal hydropower community on data and research needs, with a goal to leverage state-of-the-art climate change science to inform long-term hydropower operation and resource planning.

Understanding climate change impacts on hydropower is critical for future operations and planning, but many smaller utilities may not have dedicated, in-house resources for modeling and evaluating climate risks, DOE said. The information collected from this request for information will help WPTO design future research and development initiatives, tools and datasets that address the risk of long-term climate change on hydropower generation and reduce a utility’s burden in conducting its own full-scale climate risk assessment.

As directed by Section 9505 of the SECURE Water Act (SWA) of 2009, WPTO has conducted three rounds of assessments to evaluate the effects of climate change on hydroelectric energy generated from 132 U.S. federal hydropower plants marketed by four power marketing administrations. While this effort provided preliminary insights to help understand the broad impacts of climate change on federal hydropower resources, the assessment did not cover non-federal hydropower assets, which also experience climate change impacts.

WPTO seeks input across four categories to understand and identify:

  • Non-federally owned facilities and assets of potential concern
  • Types of concern and early signs of risk, such as snowmelt, floods, droughts, heat waves, wildfires, etc.
  • Meteorologic and hydrologic variables of interest that may help monitor and evaluate climate change-induced risks
  • Potential climate change data and research needs to support the development of long-term planning
  • General comments.

WPTO is interested in specific areas of concerns, objectives, priorities, focused issues, regulatory constraints and resource limitations across a wide variety of hydropower owners, operators and experts. Responses are due Monday, June 6, 2022.


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