Monthly Archives: May 2014

Juvenile salmon get helicopter parenting

Utility uses tagged fish to check migration systems’ efficiency

Christine Pratt
Wenatchee World

WENATCHEE – See any helicopters dipping baskets into the Columbia River below Rock Island Dam lately? It’s not what you may be thinking.

The Grant County Public Utility District is using a helicopter to release tagged juvenile salmon into the river to track their movements through Wanapum and Priest Rapids dams.

The two dams are both south of the Interstate 90 bridge at Vantage. The Wanapum Dam reservoir backs up to the Chelan County Public Utility District’s Rock Island Dam.

The helicopter should be in the vicinity of Rock Island Dam, possibly the Tarpiscan area, between 9:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. daily for the next two weeks to release the fish, Grant County PUD spokesman Chuck Allen said. Read more

Posted in Environment, Northwest Hydropower News, Relicensing | Comments Off on Juvenile salmon get helicopter parenting

BMW plans big expansion of Moses Lake carbon-fiber plant

Thanks to Eastern Washington’s cheap and renewable hydroelectricity, Moses Lake will have “the largest carbon-fiber plant on earth,” a German auto executive leading the project said Friday.

By: Dominic Gates
The Seattle Times

MOSES LAKE — By early next year, drawn by the cheap and renewable hydroelectricity of Eastern Washington, this state will have “the largest carbon-fiber plant on Earth,” a German executive leading the project said Friday.

Amid the dirt fields outside this modest farming town, where a stiff wind blows tumbleweeds across the highway, a gleaming $200 million factory already makes the carbon-fiber threads that become the tough carbon composite shell of BMW’s i-series electric and hybrid cars.

An additional $100 million investment announced Friday, coupled with an earlier expansion now nearly complete, will triple the plant’s annual capacity to 9,000 tons of carbon fiber. Read More

Posted in Environment, Northwest Hydropower News | Comments Off on BMW plans big expansion of Moses Lake carbon-fiber plant

Climate report shows Yakima Basin vulnerable to future water supply problems

By Kate Prengaman
Yakima Herald-Republic

From earlier snow melts to more wildfires, the Yakima River Basin is highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, according to a new national report released Tuesday by the Obama administration.

The report, the third U.S. National Climate Assessment, emphasizes that communities across the country are already experiencing some effects of climate change, from intense storms to devastating droughts. The administration hopes the report, written by more than 250 scientists, will spur action to cut carbon dioxide emissions and adapt to already changing conditions.

In the Northwest, scientists say basins such as the Yakima Basin are the most vulnerable to future water supply problems. That’s because the basin is already over-allocated and the current system is highly dependent on winter snow to meet summer demands. Read more

Posted in Environment, Northwest Hydropower News | Comments Off on Climate report shows Yakima Basin vulnerable to future water supply problems

New-age water wheels harvest hydrokinetic energy

By: Kate Prengaman
Yakima Herald-Republic

SELAH — Farmers across the Yakima Basin depend on a network of canals to deliver water for their crops. Now, scientists believe the canals could provide another resource to the region: renewable energy.

Capturing the energy contained in the water flowing in the Northwest’s rivers is nothing new — hydropower dams have been doing just that since the 1930s. But new turbine technology can create electricity without using dams or reservoirs, which carry environmental impacts.

A Canadian company is testing out a turbine in the Roza Canal, just south of the Yakima Canyon.

“We are creating power from moving water without the need for damming or diversions,” said Shannon Halliday, the director of business development for Instream Energy Systems. “The testing we’re doing in Roza will help us develop our next-generation technology.” Read more

Posted in Hydropower, Northwest Hydropower News | Comments Off on New-age water wheels harvest hydrokinetic energy

Energy firm pulls plug on Oregon wave-power project

The quiet shuttering of an ambitious Oregon project — the nation’s first grid-connected, commercial-scale wave park — is the latest setback for the nascent wave-energy sector in the United States.

By: Joshua Hunt and Diane Cardwell
The New York Times

PORTLAND — At the Port of Portland sits a 260-ton buoy filled with technology that can turn the movement of the ocean into electricity to power 100 homes. It rolled off an assembly line to great fanfare two years ago and received the nation’s first commercial license to operate.

It was to be the start of the closely watched follow-up to a failed attempt in the 1990s to harness the power of the Pacific Ocean, in which one of the first test-buoy generators quickly sank.

But this time around, the buoy did not even get that chance.

Its maker, Ocean Power Technologies, quietly abandoned the project last month without ever deploying its machine off the coast.

 

Despite receiving at least $8.7 million in federal and state grants, Ocean Power told regulators that it could not raise enough money to cover higher-than-expected costs and would instead pursue a similar project in Australia, backed by a $62 million commitment from that country’s government. Read more

Posted in Hydropower, Northwest Hydropower News | Comments Off on Energy firm pulls plug on Oregon wave-power project