ORIGINAL REPORTING: A Lot Of Dam Potential -- With pumped storage, hydropower can grow 50% by 2050
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: Hydropower could benefit from the current administration’s relaxing of environmental regulations, which is – at best – a mixed blessing.
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 , 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 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. Today's 101 GW of hydro includes 79.6 GW of generating capacity and 21.6 GW of pumped storage hydro (PSH). Investor-owned utilities, independent power producers, and private industry own 27% of it. Another 24% is owned by public utility districts, irrigation districts, states, and rural cooperatives. Federal agencies, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), own the remaining 49% of capacity. 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… click here for more