Energy Department Issues New Report, Highlights the Success and Potential of American Hydropower
In support of the President’s all-of-the-above energy strategy, today at the National Hydropower Association Annual Conference, Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy David Danielson announced the release of the 2014 Hydropower Market Report, the first ever report to quantify the current size, scope, and variability of our nation’s hydropower supplies. Hydropower currently provides approximately seven percent of the U.S. electricity supply—enough to power more than 20 million homes, and has experienced significant growth industry-wide. Within the last decade, the industry has supported more than 55,000 direct domestic jobs across the country, and helped offset 200 million metric tons of carbon emissions per year, equivalent to the emissions from more than 42 million passenger vehicles. The report also highlights how hydropower can be rapidly integrated with other renewable energy sources into the electric grid—contributing to the Administration’s goal of doubling our nation’s renewable energy supply again by 2020.
“This report outlines the diversity of our nation’s hydropower fleet, shows its tremendous contribution to the U.S. clean energy mix, and points to promising future growth,” said Danielson. “With an expanding industry and continued investment, hydropower remains one of our nation’s most cost-effective and reliable sources of renewable energy and provides an important tool for boosting our clean energy supply.”
The 2014 Hydropower Market Report highlights the critical investment of more than $6 billion throughout the last decade to strengthen the existing hydropower fleet and the economic benefits that have resulted from support of the industry. Today, the hydropower manufacturing supply chain spreads across 38 states, with more than 170 companies producing one or more of six major hydropower components: turbines, generators, transformers, penstocks, gates, and valves.
Presenting a unique analysis of the current project development pipeline in the hydropower sector, this report shows that America has more than 77 gigawatts (GW) of untapped hydropower resource potential, and will continue to innovate to help unleash that potential. By making use of existing water resources and infrastructure, the vast majority of new hydropower projects built over the last decade have added electric generating equipment to dams that were previously not powered. The current hydropower development pipeline contains a diverse mixture of projects proposed at non-powered dams, conduits, and previously undeveloped rivers and streams.
For more than 100 years, hydropower has delivered a source of clean, renewable electricity in almost every state. Today, it plays a key role in providing flexibility to the nation’s power grids, allowing utility operators to quickly fulfill spikes in electrical demand—such as those caused by summer heat waves—making hydropower a vital asset to many states’ energy portfolios. Further expanding this system flexibility, more than 50 pumped-storage hydropower projects, which function as large energy storage systems for other clean energy sources, are in the various stages of planning and development and will add strength and stability to our electric grids.
The Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy accelerates development and deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality. More information about this and other hydropower technologies can be found on the Water Power Program's hydropower research and development Web page. To learn more about how hydropower captures energy from flowing water, watch this Energy 101 video.