The HydroFlex technology, developed by a team of electrical and computer engineering researchers at the University of Utah in partnership with the energy company Grid Elevated, has just won the grand prize in the third and final phase of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Hydropower Operations Optimization (H2Os) Competition. The team also won the grand prize in both the first and second phases of this competition, making a full sweep with this final win.

The H2Os competition asked participants to employ modeling, mathematical optimization, data science, and machine learning to create new ways for hydropower systems to coordinate with existing grid scheduling practices and meet water management needs. This third phase of the competition increased the complexity of water management requirements in comparison to the first two phases. Competitors were asked to manage longer-term schedules and added demand profiles that reflect significant solar integration.

The winning team was selected based on their solution’s applicability to the hydropower industry, scalability and novelty of the approach, and diversity, equity, and inclusion considerations as part of the solution.

“These winners are doing important work to help improve hydropower’s ability to support a reliable and resilient electric grid today and into the future,” says Alejandro Moreno, Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

From left to right: Alex Farley, Masood Parvania, Luis Rodríguez-Garcia, and Majid Majidi

The team, composed of Masood Parvania, Majid Majidi, Alex Farley, and Luis Rodríguez-Garcia previously won both the first and second phases of this competition with their HydroFlex technology, a cloud-based software package that can intelligently manage when it is best for hydropower units to generate electricity. In this third and final round, the team was the selected grand prize recipient, with two runner-up teams and two honorable mentions, earning a $30,000 prize for their win to aid in the pursuit of taking their technology to market.

“We are incredibly excited and honored to have pulled this “hat trick” in winning all three phases of this competition,” says Parvania, associate professor of ECE and director of the Utah Smart Energy Laboratory.

To read the official announcement from the Department of Energy and learn more about the competition and runner-up teams, click here.

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