By Herman K. Trabish
U.S. hydroelectric power, the nation’s oldest and biggest renewable, could see striking growth through 2050 – if developers work around its potential harms to river ecosystems and take advantage of expected growth in wind and solar.
Hydropower provided 6.2% of the nation’s electricity, 48% of all renewable electricity, and 97% of all energy storage in 2015, according to a new report, “Hydropower Vision: A New Chapter for America’s First Renewable Electricity Source,” from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
That almost 101 GW of combined hydropower generating and storage installed capacity in 2015 could explode to nearly 150 GW in 2050, the report’s rigorous modeling found. But that will require technology innovations to drive the cost of project development and financing down and to solve environmental challenges.
“The growth potential for hydropower is real,” Jose Zayas, DOE’s Wind and Water Technologies Office Director, told Utility Dive.