New Hydropower Development must enable environmental compatibility while providing low-cost, renewable power.

Hydropower has a storied history in the United States and is among the largest sources of renewable energy generation in the country. Though the pace of building new projects has slowed over the past decade, significant growth opportunities remain for developing small hydropower, both for new in-stream development and via existing water infrastructure retrofits.

Can we develop low-cost, modular, replicable hydropower facilities that preserve or enhance river function?

Yes, the Standard Modular Hydropower (SMH) project takes multiple research approaches for promoting standard modular hydropower technology. The project defines standardization, modularity, and environmental compatibility as three enabling principles of a low-cost, environmentally compatible hydropower growth strategy.

This approach can transform the existing development paradigm by designing new projects that generate renewable energy at low cost while preserving and enhancing stream functionality.

More about how to sustain stream functionality and achieving cost competitiveness through modularity and standardization.

The Standard Modular Hydropower (SMH) hypothesis is that new small hydropower development can be realized by shifting conventional thinking in four key areas:

  • Reduce the reliance on site-specific equipment and structures by incorporating modularity across the facility or subsystems, utilizing standard technologies and solutions that scale across many sites
  • Minimize the use of customization by standardizing the siting, design, review, approval, installation, operation, and assessment of new modular facilities or retrofits
  • Shift the design philosophy from mitigating impacts of in-stream energy infrastructure to sustaining the important hydrologic, hydraulic, geomorphic, physiochemical, and ecologic processes that occur in streams and watersheds
  • Build a flexible framework that codifies diverse stakeholder opinions into suitability criteria and thresholds of acceptance for new development

Together, these elements strike a new path toward environmentally compatible, low cost hydropower project development.

More information on the SMH philosophy, research activities, and expected outcomes are provided on the Research page.

SMH Fact Sheet

SMH Overview Animation Video