The AHTS project began in 1994 as a joint partnership by the DOE, the US hydro power industry and the National Hydropower Association (NHA), with the aim of creating a more efficient and environmentally friendly turbine that could generate more power from less water.

President Bush spoke about the FY’07 budget, to be released next week, at his State of the Union address this week. His new Advanced Energy Initiative includes accelerating hybrid vehicles, biofuels, hydrogen, advanced photovoltaics and wind power, but also means closing down or reducing RD&D for concentrated solar power, geothermal and hydro power. Any proposals to change budgets would need to be held to a vote in Congress.

NHA said in a statement: ‘The [FY’07] budget should include long-term and short-term solutions to our energy challenges. It funds long-term programmes, the results of which will not be seen for many years. At the same time, it eliminates the AHTS, which is on the verge of producing tangible results; more domestic, renewable energy.’

It concluded: ‘Research and development programmes like the AHTS should receive more financial support, not less.’

AHTS has been used in hydro projects such as Wanapum dam on the Columbia river in Washington state, US. It was tested in a study that concluded that fish survival in passage through the AHTS was equal to or exceeded the survival through an existing turbine.

The cut is a turnaround from eight years ago, when the Senate Appropriations Committee backed the AHTS project by recommending that US$4M should be given to hydro power RD&D.

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