U.S. could double hydropower capacity in future

The U.S. Energy Department said on Tuesday it has found over 65 gigawatts (GW) of potential new hydropower development across the country, nearly equivalent to the current U.S. hydropower capacity.

“The United States has tremendous untapped clean energy resources and responsible development will help pave the way to a cleaner, more sustainable and diverse energy portfolio,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.

“As the Energy Department works with industry, universities and state and local governments to advance innovative hydropower technologies, the resource assessment released today provides unparalleled insight into new hydropower opportunities throughout the country,” he said.

The department said in the assessment report that there are still many opportunities to develop new hydropower projects around the country, most of which would likely be smaller, run-of-river facilities that could utilize new low-impact designs and technologies.

Hydropower makes up 7 percent of total U.S. electricity generation and continues to be the U.S. largest source of renewable electricity, avoiding over 200 million metric tons of carbon emissions each year.

Hydropower provides reliable baseload power day and night – providing greater flexibility and diversity to the electric grid and allowing utilities to integrate other renewable sources such as wind and solar power.