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Untapped Hydro Resources

Untapped Hydro Resources

Hydro power once averaged over 20% of U.S. electric power sector net generation in 1970. Over the past decade (2004–2013), hydro power provided an average of 6.8% of U.S. electric power sector net generation. Untapped non-power dam (NPD) resources  will transform small hydro into a major energy source. 

The U.S. Administration’s goal is to generate 80% of the nation’s electricity to clean energy sources by 2035 and lead the world in clean energy innovation.

The hydro power resource assessment by the Department of Energy’s Hydropower Program has identified 5,677 sites in the United States with acceptable undeveloped hydro power potential. These sites have a modeled undeveloped capacity of about 30,000 MW. This represents about 40 percent of the existing conventional hydro power capacity.

The 80,000+ non-powered facilities represent the vast majority of dams in the country; more than 90% of dams are used for services, such as regulating water supply and controlling inland navigation, and lack electricity-generating equipment.

non powered dams

An assessment of energy potential from new stream-reach development in the United States led by DOE’s ORNL provides a national picture of the remaining new hydropower development opportunities in U.S. rivers and streams. The assessment concluded that the technical resource potential is 85 GW of capacity. When federally protected lands—national parks, national wild and scenic rivers, and wilderness areas—are excluded, the remaining potential is over 60 GW of capacity or 347 TWh/year of generation.

Power stations can likely be added to many of these dams at a lower cost than creating new powered dam structures. Together, these non-power dam (NPD) facilities could power millions of households and avoid millions of metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year.
undeveloped hydroelectric power

Only 3 percent of the nation’s 80,000 dams currently generate electricity, and as we move to a clean energy economy, it is vital that we tap these unused resources. Continue reading Untapped Hydro Resources




New damless hydro electric energy invention will change the way we power the world.DAMLESS HYDRO ELECTRIC ENERGY

Which renewable energy source has the most potential? Mankind has been benefiting from the “energy of moving water…since before the Roman Empire” to power waterwheels for mills.  Today the global renewable energy industry is worth $615 billion. Today it is probably wind or solar, whose technologies are falling precipitously and making those investments economical. However, don’t discount hydro power, which now accounts for about 10% of the electricity and which could also grow in the coming decades.

 “Let’s not lose sight of what we know for certain about hydro power — it has greatly contributed to a healthier environment and economic prosperity and can sustainability grow to do more. Hydro power provides many benefits in the fight to address climate change and for cleaner air,” says the National Hydropower Association. 

Base level electricity is a requirement. Most hydro power facilities can quickly go from zero power to maximum output, making them ideal for meeting sudden changes in demand for electricity. 

The US government is so focused at other renewable sources of energy like wind and solar, it may be overlooking the contributing potential of hydroelectricity. More investment into damless hydro is the key to its development into a feasible renewable and clean alternative for power production.

The advocacy group points to a US Department of Energy (DOE) report that says the energy form could grow by 50,000 megawatts by 2050. That, in turn, would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 112,000 metric tons of CO2/megawatt and save $4.2 billion/megawatt in avoided damages from heat-trapping emissions. 

The next phase of hydro power, however, will focus on smaller hydro units that are less disruptive environmentally but still useful in supplying electricity to remote areas. A 2007 Electric Power Research Institute study estimated that there is a potential for adding a 300 megawatts of damless hydro power in the US by 2025.  Meanwhile, at least 100 countries are developing small hydro plants, with the most potential in the former Soviet Union, South Asia and South America.

Only 3 percent of the nation’s 80,000 dams currently generate power. An Energy Department-funded study found that 12,000 megawatts of hydroelectric generating capacity could be added to existing dams around the country.decommissioned dams maynard dam DAMLESS HYDRO ELECTRIC ENERGY Continue reading DAMLESS HYDRO ELECTRIC ENERGY