Chances are you’ve heard about the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). Maybe you know about its plan to bring high-speed internet and clean water to all Americans. Or maybe you’ve read about its potential to help electrify our country through better batteries, a network of electric vehicle charging stations, and advanced nuclear energy.
But what does this historical investment mean for water power—and Americans?
Signed into law in November 2021, the BIL allots more than $62 billion for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to deliver a more equitable clean energy future by investing in American manufacturing and workers; expanding access to energy efficiency and reliable, affordable, clean energy for families, communities and businesses; and building the technologies of tomorrow through clean energy demonstrations.
About $1 billion from the BIL will fund water power projects, including:
- Hydropower, including significant investments in maintaining and strengthening the current hydropower fleet, which already provides 37% of the country’s renewable electricity generation along with jobs for tens of thousands of Americans.
- Marine energy, an emerging industry that could generate clean energy from waves, tides, and river and ocean currents to power remote and island communities and blue economy applications such as ocean observation technology or desalination and water treatment devices.
These investments will boost both industries, provide more clean, affordable energy, and expand domestic job opportunities.
“Hydropower and marine energy technologies are crucial to achieving the United States’ goals of a 100% clean energy grid by 2035 and a net-zero-emissions economy by 2050,” said Jennifer Garson, Director of DOE’s Water Power Technologies Office. “Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are receiving a once-in-a-generation investment and an incredible opportunity to fund hydropower development and improvements and advance marine energy, allowing us to make real progress toward these goals.”
BIL provides funding to upgrade hydropower infrastructure to deliver clean, reliable energy across the country
Today’s hydropower fleet provides emission-free, reliable, and affordable electricity. But while these facilities are major sources of clean power and well-paying jobs, they are aging and becoming increasingly expensive to maintain. Rather than risk losing them, the BIL will provide funding to keep these clean energy facilities online.
The BIL provides DOE with more than $700 million for hydropower incentives programs to help existing hydropower facilities improve efficiency (allowing them to create clean energy faster and for less overall cost), improve grid resilience, maintain dam safety, reduce environmental impacts (by implementing technologies that help fish move safely through dams, for example), and continue to provide carbon-emission-free electricity.
The BIL also includes $36 million for various other hydropower research, development, deployment, and demonstration projects.
Hydropower will increasingly play a critical role as more variable renewable energy sources—like solar power and wind energy—are added to the electricity grid. Hydropower is reliable, flexible, and dispatchable. Facilities can kick on or off quickly to fill energy gaps or even help recover from power disruptions. This resource is the dependable bedrock the country needs to support tomorrow’s clean energy grid.
BIL provides funding to advance cutting-edge marine energy technology to help make sure every community can achieve a zero-emissions future
Remote and coastal communities are near a vast source of untapped renewable energy: the ocean. And yet many still rely on expensive shipments of diesel fuel while offshore workers, like marine researchers and members of the international shipping industry, must return to shore—expending more energy on the way—to refuel and get back to work.
One potential solution is the burgeoning marine energy industry, which could provide affordable and clean power for many of these isolated communities and offshore needs. To that end, the BIL is investing $70.4 million for marine energy research and development projects and $40 million for the National Marine Energy Centers.
These BIL-funded programs will help move the country closer to a secure, reliable, and clean energy future by lowering carbon emissions and strengthening the nation’s energy infrastructure.
Learn more about BIL-funded activities at DOE, and visit the Water Power Technologies Office’s Hydropower Incentives Funding in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law page for the latest updates on the hydropower incentives opportunities.
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