Hydroelectricity’s great present and future
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 completed by the WPTO, there have recently been many advances in hydroelectric energy generation.
Hydroelectric renewable energy sources found in the U.S. include dams, river currents, tides, and ocean currents and waves. Around 40% of American renewable energy is currently from hydroelectric energy, and hydroelectricity provides over 5% of total American energy. 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.
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 work with, back up, and provide energy storage for other renewable energy sources, like 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 R&D with hydrokinetic energy resources in national laboratories, in various industries, and other federal agencies. Their work with marine power technologies add to other kinetic hydro and renewable energy sources in the WPTO portfolio. R&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.