ORIGINAL REPORTING: A Lot Of Dam Potential In U.S. Hydro
A lot of dam potential: Renewables growth could drive massive hydro buildout; With pumped storage, hydropower can grow 50% by 2050 - if developers can get over the hurdles
Herman K. Trabish, August 9, 2016 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s Note: One of the big reveals from the Trump administration’s Rick Perry-led DOE will be whether it respects environmental concerns in its hydropower policies.
U.S. hydroelectric power, the nation’s oldest and biggest renewable, could see striking growth through 2050. It provided 6.2% of the nation’s electricity, 48% of all renewable electricity, and 97% of all energy storage in 2015, according to 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. The key word there may be “potential.” Other studies have highlighted hydropower's room for growth in the U.S., but the power sector has largely opted for wind, solar and natural gas for capacity additions. Through 2030, the DOE study reports, growth will come mainly from “optimizing and upgrading the existing fleet, and powering non-powered dams.” But between 2030 and 2050, the study foresees solar and wind rising to a 45% U.S. grid penetration, driving the development of a remarkable 35.5 GW of new PSH to balance the variable generation. Its ability to provide flexibility and other important grid services “is certainly a reason for the increased interest in hydro,” Zayas said. But many who build PSH have found it challenging to overcome cost and environmental hurdles… click here for more