Ever-advancing technologies are opening the doors to the power of flowing water, which now provides over 7% of U.S. electricity and could be much more, according the latest market report from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
Climate change and the need for clean and flexible baseload power is forcing hydropower back into the spotlight and is forcing utilities professionals and environmentalists alike to take a second look at hydropower as a resource.
For a long time, utilities backed away from hydropower because opposition from environmentalists around legitimate concerns about its impact on waterway ecosystems, however, technology is striving to make a change and minimize environmental impact.
American Rivers, a waterway conservation group, now believes “hydropower – done right – is an important part of our nation’s energy mix. But the key lies in getting it right.”
There are 2,198 active U.S. hydropower facilities, representing 79.64 GW of capacity, by far the biggest of the renewables, according to DOE’s just-released "2014 Hydropower Market Report." Most of the capacity is in large projects built between 1930 and 1970.