The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that 66 hydro facilities will receive more than $38 million in incentive payments for electricity generated and sold, and the “reimagined” Hydropower Vision Roadmap has been released.

Funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and with consideration of facilities located in communities with inadequate electric service, the incentive payments provide funding for electricity generated and sold from dams and other water infrastructure that add or expand hydroelectric power generating capabilities. These payments represent DOE’s largest investment in hydroelectric facilities to date, according to a release.

“Hydropower is one of the nation’s original sources of renewable energy and President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is providing transformative funding to help protect this existing clean energy infrastructure,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Today’s announcement supports waterpower’s continued growth while maintaining and expanding good-paying jobs and increasing access to affordable, clean power where it is needed most.” 

Hydropower accounts for 28.7% of renewable electricity generation in the U.S., as well as 93% of all utility-scale energy storage capacity. However, fewer than 3% of the nation’s more than 90,000 dams produce power. Adding generation equipment to these sites could add up to 12 GW of new hydropower capacity to the U.S. electric system.

The Hydroelectric Production Incentives, administered by DOE’s Grid Deployment Office, are part of a comprehensive program funded by a $750 million investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to support the continued operation of the U.S. hydropower fleet and ensure a more reliable and resilient electric grid system. Other program offerings are the Hydroelectric Efficiency Improvement Incentives and Maintaining & Enhancing Hydroelectricity Incentives. Since 2014, hydropower incentives have been used to support operations and maintenance, fees and service debts, exploration of new small hydropower opportunities, and salary and benefits for the hydropower workforce.

Click here for a complete list of selected applicants.

Additionally, DOE released the reimagined Hydropower Vision Roadmap, led by the Water Power Technologies Office. With the release of the Hydropower Vision report in 2016, DOE made a commitment to the hydropower community to make the Vision a living document. The original Hydropower Vision report was released at HYDROVISION International 2016.

To uphold that commitment, WPTO and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory reimagined the Vision’s roadmap with the support of the hydropower community. The Vision stated that with continued technology advancements, innovative market mechanisms, and a focus on environmental sustainability, U.S. hydropower could grow from its current 101 GW to nearly 150 GW of combined electricity generating and storage capacity by 2050. The roadmap lays out the specific activities identified by the hydropower community to achieve those goals by 2050

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