Hydropower is getting fresh consideration from the US Department of the Interior. But there are no plans to build new hydroelectric dams to do this. Instead, a recent agency report has concluded that the department could generate up to one million megawatt hours of electricity annually by adding hydropower capacity at 70 of its existing dams and other water control structures.
Building new dams for hydropower is not generally regarded favorably. While they allow electricity to be generated without carbon emissions, there is unacceptable collateral environmental damage to both surrounding upriver areas which are flooded and to the downriver areas where the water flow is suddenly constrained.
But existing dams for flood control are already built and are not going to be removed anytime soon. And there is a hydroelectric potential at these dams which is presently going unused. The department's list includes 70 potential sites which are located throughout the western US.
The power generation would be done by private firms or other non-federal entities under a "Lease of Power Privilege Agreement," which gives a 40 year right for use of the facility to produce electric power. The department also states that this could provide power for 85,000 homes and will help reach the government targets to meet 80% percent of U.S. energy needs with clean sources by 2035.
images: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
via: EERE News
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