Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Funding Will Support New Technologies to Enable Hydropower Growth, Expand Energy Storage, and Reduce Environmental Impacts

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Biden-Harris Administration, through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), today launched more than $28 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for research and development (R&D) projects that will advance and preserve hydropower as a critical source of clean energy. This Notice of Intent (NOI) will offer three funding opportunities this fall to support research, development, and deployment of hydropower, including pumped storage hydropower, which can play a key role in integrating variable renewable energy sources on the electric grid.  Hydropower technologies are crucial to achieving the Biden Administration’s goals of a carbon-free electricity sector by 2035 and a net-zero-emissions economy by 2050. 

“For over a century, hydropower has provided clean, cheap, and reliable energy to American households and businesses,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will ensure that hydropower continues to play as big a role in our clean energy future has it has in our past.”  

Funding opportunities will support testing of innovative technologies, development approaches, or construction techniques to reduce time, cost, or risks associated with hydropower and pumped storage hydropower development; conduct studies to further the development and deployment of a permitted pumped storage hydropower project; and seek stakeholder insights to inform hydropower research. These activities support new hydropower technology deployment, continued pumped storage hydropower project development, and efforts to better understand challenges facing the industry to help achieve the nation’s clean energy goals.  

Hydropower currently accounts for 31.5% of U.S. renewable electricity generation and about 6.3% of total U.S. electricity generation. DOE's Hydropower Vision report found U.S. hydropower capacity could expand by nearly 50% by 2050. Pumped storage hydropower accounts for 93% of U.S. utility-scale energy storage, helping ensure power is available whenever homes and businesses need it.  

The proposed funding opportunities will: 

  • Encourage sustainable growth of hydropower and pumped storage hydropower technologies to support power system decarbonization, including technologies to retrofit non-powered dams. To expand diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility, this opportunity is expected to include a topic area seeking R&D projects from entities that have not significantly engaged with DOE in the past. (Proposed funding amount: $14.5M) 
  • Expand pumped storage hydropower to provide long-duration energy storage and support increased integration of variable renewable energy on the grid. (Proposed funding amount: $10M) 
  • Support stakeholders’ efforts to understand community-level issues affecting hydropower technologies and improvements, with the goal of informing current and future hydropower R&D needs. (Proposed funding amount: $4M) 

Read the full notice of intent on EERE Exchange

Learn more about the Water Power Technologies Office in DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.