This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

May 07, 2014

Energy Department Report Finds Major Potential to Grow U.S. Hydropower

The Energy Department and its Oak Ridge National Laboratory on April 29 released a renewable energy resource assessment detailing the potential to develop new electric power generation in waterways across the United States. The report estimates over 65 gigawatts (GW) of potential new hydropower development opportunities across more than three million U.S. rivers and streams—nearly equivalent to the current U.S. hydropower capacity.

The New Stream-reach Development Assessment capitalizes on recent advancements in geospatial datasets and represents the most detailed evaluation of U.S. hydropower potential at undeveloped streams and rivers to date. The greatest hydropower potential was found in western states, including Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. Kansas, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming led the rest of the country in new stream-reach hydropower potential.

Hydropower makes up 7% of total U.S. electricity generation and continues to be the United States’ largest source of renewable electricity, avoiding over 200 million metric tons of carbon emissions each year. Hydropower also 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. See the Energy Department news release.