U.S. Expands Hydropower

Saint Croix Falls Dam & Hydropower Plant
Saint Croix Falls Dam & Hydropower Plant.
(cc) J. Stephen Conn

The U.S. Department of Energy is devoting up to $32 million in Recovery Act funding to modernize the existing hydropower infrastructure in the U.S., increase efficiency, and reduce environmental impact. The funding is designed to support the deployment of turbines and control technologies to increase power generation and environmental stewardship at existing non-federal hydroelectric facilities.

“There’s no one solution to the energy crisis, but hydropower is clearly part of the solution and represents a major opportunity to create more clean energy jobs,” said Secretary Chu. “Investing in our existing hydropower infrastructure will strengthen our economy, reduce pollution and help us toward energy independence.”

Secretary Chu also noted another key benefit of hydropower: potential hydro energy can be stored behind dams and released when it is most needed. Therefore, improving our hydro infrastructure can help to increase the utilization and economic viability of intermittent renewable energy sources like wind and solar power. Secretary Chu is committed to further developing pumped storage technology to harness these advantages.

Today’s funding opportunity announcement under the Recovery Act will be competitively awarded to a variety of non-federal hydropower projects that can be developed without significant modifications to dams and with a minimum of regulatory delay.

Projects will be selected in two areas:

Deployment of Hydropower Upgrades at Projects greater than 50 MW: These include projects at large, non-federal facilities with existing or advanced technologies that will enable improved environmental performance and significant new generation.

Deployment of Hydropower Upgrades at Projects less than 50 MW: These include projects at small-scale non-federal facilities with existing or advanced technologies that will enable improved environmental performance and significant new generation.

Projects are expected to begin in fiscal year 2010.

Read Hydropower and Energy Potential at Non-powered Dams from Amazon.