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U.S. Department of Energy unveils Hydropower Vision plan

The U.S. Department of Energy released the long-awaited Hydropower Vision report - alongside $9.8 million in funding for hydroelectric power - at HydroVision International 2016 in Minneapolis
The report, officially titled, Hydropower Vision: A New Chapter for America's First Renewable Electricity Source, is the culmination of two-and-a-half years of research that included the opinions and feedback from hundreds of industry members, academia and DOE's national laboratories.

Hydropower Vision seeks to establish a long-term roadmap for the future of the United States' hydro sector that not only advances the country's low-carbon economy, but also leverages renewable energy sources with the ultimate goal of increasing the U.S.' capacity from a cumulative 101 GW to nearly 150 GW of reservoir, run-of-river and pumped-storage hydropower by 2050.

Per the report's findings, growth potential can be attributed to:

  • 4.8 GW of new development on non-powered dams;
  • 6.3 GW in upgrades on existing hydropower;
  • 35.5 GW of new pumped-storage projects; and
  • 1.75 GW in new stream-reach developments.

Framework for the report relies on three pillars -- optimization, growth and sustainability -- that DOE says are "critical to ensuring the integrity of the research, modeling and analysis" of recommendations and observations made by the study.

Per DOE, the study seeks to:

  • Optimize the value and power generation contribution of the existing hydropower fleet within the nation's energy mix to benefit national and regional economies, maintain critical national infrastructure and improve energy security;
  • Explore the feasibility of credible long-term deployment scenarios for responsible growth of hydropower capacity and energy production; and
  • Ensure that hydropower's contributions toward meeting the nation's energy needs are consistent with the objectives of environmental stewardship and water use management.

"This has been very complex," Zayas said. "It's complex because we have a century-old industry that's filled with great stories and journeys and lessons that it's learned. And as we think about that great history, the question we were asking ourselves was, 'how do we revitalize this industry moving forward? How do we remind people that this industry matters in an ever-changing energy landscape? How do we present that incredible future that we can all work toward together?




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