Hydro Opportunities

In January 2006, the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) issued a report that concluded that there are a large number of opportunities for increasing hydroelectric generation throughout the United States. These opportunities collectively represent a potential for approximately doubling our hydroelectric generation (not including pumped storage), but more realistically offer the means to at least increase hydroelectric generation by more than 50 percent.

There are a large number of feasible potential projects, and they are located such that most states could benefit from a significant amount of additional renewable energy if they were developed. In fact, by comparing hydropower potential associated with feasible projects to the total annual average power of the existing hydroelectric plants in the state, it was found that 33 states could increase their hydropower generation by 100 percent or more and 41 states could realize increases of more than 50 percent. In total, development of 5,400 feasible small hydro projects alone would provide more than a 50 percent increase in U.S. hydroelectric generation.

The majority of the identified feasible hydropower potential could be harnessed without constructing new dams and by using existing techniques and technologies developed over the long history of installing small hydroelectric plants in the U.S. In fact, 84 percent of the identified hydropower potential could be developed using existing technology.