Why Use Hydropower?
Hydropower, otherwise known as hydroelectric power, offers a number of advantages to the communities that they serve. Hydropower and pumped storage continue to play a crucial role in our fight against climate change by providing essential power, storage, and flexibility services. Below are just some of the benefits that hydropower can provide as the United States transitions to 100% clean electricity by 2035 and net-zero emissions by 2050.
In a study led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory on hydropower flexibility, preliminary analysis found that the firm capacity associated with U.S. hydropower’s flexibility is estimated to be over 24 GW. To replace this capability with storage would require the buildout of 24 GW of 10-hour storage—more than all the existing storage in the United States today. Additionally, in terms of integrating wind and solar, the flexibility presented in existing U.S. hydropower facilities could help bring up to 137 gigawatts of new wind and solar online by 2035.
ADVANTAGES OF HYDROPOWER:
- Hydropower is a renewable source of energy. The energy generated through hydropower relies on the water cycle, which is driven by the sun, making it renewable.
- Hydropower is fueled by water, making it a clean source of energy.
- Hydroelectric power is a domestic source of energy, allowing each state to produce its own energy without being reliant on international fuel sources.
- Impoundment hydropower creates reservoirs that offer recreational opportunities such as fishing, swimming, and boating. Most hydropower installations are required to provide some public access to the reservoir to allow the public to take advantage of these opportunities.
- Hydroelectric power is flexible. Some hydropower facilities can quickly go from zero power to maximum output. Because hydropower plants can generate power to the grid immediately, they provide essential backup power during major electricity outages or disruptions.
- Hydropower provides benefits beyond electricity generation by providing flood control, irrigation support, and clean drinking water.
- Hydropower is affordable. Hydropower provides low-cost electricity and durability over time compared to other sources of energy. Construction costs can even be mitigated by using preexisting structures such as bridges, tunnels, and dams.
- Hydropower complements other renewable energy sources. Technologies like pumped storage hydropower (PSH) store energy to use in tandem with renewables such as wind and solar power when demand is high.
- Hydropower is an established industry in the United States, employing 66,500 people. And there are a growing number of jobs available in hydropower, including manufacturing, utilities, professional and business services, construction, trade and transportation, energy systems, water management, environmental science, welding, machinery, and other services.
- The U.S. hydropower workforce could grow to 120,000 jobs by 2030 and 158,000 by 2050. For those interested in becoming part of this workforce, hydropower education programs can be found nationwide.
- Hydropower creates jobs in rural locations and boosts local economies.
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