America is wasting clean, affordable energy resources in the form of existing small and medium dams that are not currently producing power. As explained in a recent article at Power-Technology.com, there are more than 80,000 non-powered dams in this country, and powering just 100 of them could increase America’s hydropower production by 15 percent.
The United States is second in the world in electricity consumption – behind only China – yet we are merely fourth in hydro power production. In terms of hydro power as a percentage of total electricity generation, America falls much further down the rankings. Among the top six nations for total electricity generation, the United States ranks dead last in percentage of electricity generation from hydro power.
“Many of the monetary costs and environmental impacts of dam construction have already been incurred at NPDs [non-powered hydro dams],” reports U.S. Department of Energy analyst Boualem Hadjerioua, according to Power-Technology.com.
“So adding power to the existing dam infrastructure can be achieved at lower cost, with less risk, and in a shorter timeframe than development requiring new dam construction. The abundance, cost and environmental favorability of NPDs combined with the reliability and predictability of hydropower, make these dams a highly attractive source for expanding the nation’s renewable energy supply,” Hadjerioua added.
The benefits of powering up some existing dams would add significant amounts of emissions-free electricity at affordable prices with very minimal environmental impact. This seems like a winning proposition for American consumers and the American environment. Now, if only our politicians will listen.