Digital Twins for Hydropower

The U.S. Department of Energy Water Power Technologies Office is launching the Digital Twins for Hydropower framework to create a virtual platform to accelerate technology development for the hydropower industry.


Illustration by Chris DeGraff | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

The aging hydropower industry faces significant challenges, including increasing operational costs and complex interactions with the smart grid, that impact resiliency and reliability.

Sponsored by the Water Power Technologies Office, PNNL, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has launched Digital Twins for Hydropower to affordably modernize the nation’s hydropower plant fleet.

Digital Twins addresses challenges by creating a digital profile of historical and current hydropower plants based on virtual and real-time data and feedback to optimize hydropower operations. In doing so, the hydropower industry can expect to reduce operating costs, improve reliability, reduce downtime, and enhance grid resiliency.

The Digital Twins framework has created a virtual, open-access platform that simulates hydropower plant dynamics and the integration with the power grid. The platform utilizes next generation technologies, including artificial intelligence, machine learning, Internet of Things, and virtual/augmented reality to optimize hydroelectric facilities.

The platform includes co-simulation of the hydro generation, transmission, and distribution systems to provide near real-time optimal control and power dispatch to coordinate with load models and forecasting models. Digital Twins offers a means to accelerate technology development and to optimize hydropower’s efficiency while meeting its many needs in supporting the electrical grid and improving environmental impacts.