Approximately seven percent of nation's total power is currently being produced by hydroelectric plants. In its recent study U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) stated that hydropower resources could satisfy 15% of U.S. energy demand by 2030.
Hydroelectric power plants today exist in 34 U.S. states and there are also at least 54,000 non-powered dams in the United States that could be used to generate electricity.
The DOE says that U.S. could generate as much as 12 gigawatts of its energy per year by utilizing the hydropower potential of these 54,000 non-powered dams. This is approximately 15 percent of the current total hydropower capacity in the United States.
If these non-powered dams were to be utilized they could provide electricity for around 4 million households in United States. Harnessing more hydropower resources would also contribute to decrease of greenhouse gas emissions as this would reduce the need for dirty fossil fuels such as coal.
Hydropower is definitely one of the best clean energy options for United States. Hydroelectric power plants have very long tradition on their side and have proven to be very reliable and highly efficient source of energy.
The new hydropower projects in United States have become rarity in the last couple of years. Thousands of these non-powered dams could make new hydropower projects significantly cheaper by using already existing infrastructure to further increase nation's hydropower capacity.