Hydroelectricity’s great present and future in the U.S.
The share of renewable energy in the United States energy mix is about 20%. A large share of American renewable electricity (about 30%) is sourced from hydroelectric energy, and hydroelectricity provides about 6% of total United States domestic energy.
Hydroelectric renewable energy sources found in the U.S. include, first and foremost, hydroelectric dams. Future hydropower sources with great potential are river currents, tides, ocean currents, and ocean waves. Using these sources for hydropower is still mostly in the research & development stage, with minimal commercial availability. More than 75% of the American population lives within 50 miles of a coast, lake, or river, and are able to reap the benefits of energy harvested by hydropower.
Most U.S. hydroelectricity generation capacity is in the West
“There are conventional hydropower/hydroelectric facilities in nearly every state. Most hydroelectricity is produced at large dams built by the federal government, and many of the largest hydropower dams are in the western United States. About half of total U.S. utility-scale conventional hydroelectricity generation capacity is concentrated in Washington, California, and Oregon. Washington has the most conventional hydroelectric generating capacity of any state and is the site of the Grand Coulee Dam, the largest U.S. hydropower facility and the largest U.S. power plant in electric generation capacity.” FROM – eia.gov/energyexplained/hydropower/where-hydropower-is-generated
The U.S. DOE’s WPTO
The Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) has increased the national portfolio of hydroelectric power sources. Within the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), there has long been a goal to advance clean, domestic power from renewable resources such as hydropower – energy from dams, waves, currents, and tides. With incredible levels of research and development being conducted by the WPTO, there have recently been many advances in hydroelectric energy generation.
“The U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office is committed to developing and deploying a portfolio of innovative technologies for clean, domestic power generation from resources such as hydropower, waves, and tides.” FROM – energy.gov/about-water-power-technologies-office-wpto
Lake/ river dams, freshwater tidal barrages that are located in more inland regions of rivers; as well as ocean, lagoon or estuary currents, and ocean waves, all provide potential sources of energy to develop renewable hydropower. Hydropower can even be developed as a secondary renewable energy source, to back up and provide energy storage for other renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power. Pumped hydro storage remains the dominant form of energy storage globally.
Hydrokinetic energy sources like energy generated by tides and currents show tremendous potential as future domestic renewable energy sources. The WPTO is working to strengthen the U.S. economy and the environment through research, development, & deployment (RD&D) with hydrokinetic energy resources in various industries, in national laboratories, through the DOE, and other federal agencies. Their work with marine power technologies adds to other kinetic hydro and renewable energy sources in the WPTO portfolio. RD&D by the WPTO has produced an improvement in energy efficiency, lower-cost energy, and ultimately, an increase of sustainability in domestic U.S. energy. Domestic renewable energy benefits both the economy and the environment.
Please see: Renewable Energy Overview
Please also see: Renewable Energy: Hydroelectricity
And: Hydrokinetic Power
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