The 2017 Hydropower Market Report provides industry, policy makers, and other interested stakeholders with important data and information on the distribution, characteristics, and trends of the hydropower industry in the United States. Hydropower currently accounts for 7% of installed generation capacity, and 43 pumped-storage hydropower (PSH) plants provide 95% of the nation’s utility-scale electrical energy storage.
Key findings from the 2017 Hydropower Market Report include:
- U.S. hydropower grew nearly 2 gigawatts over the past decade as owners optimized and upgraded existing assets and some new projects were constructed. Growth was seen in all regions of the country.
- The value of hydropower’s flexibility is important, and likely increasing. As the U.S. generation mix changes to include more variable renewable resources like wind and solar, hydropower provides necessary flexibility and reliability services to the grid. From 2005–2015, the use of variable renewables in the United States has increased from 2% to 11%. An analysis of many different U.S. electricity markets shows that hydropower assets are being utilized equally—and in many cases more intensely in providing ancillary services—than natural gas plants (one of the most flexible generation assets available).
- The hydropower industry still faces challenges as the power sector evolves. Availability factors have decreased in the last decade, which presents a challenge to new hydropower development, increases the operations and maintenance costs of aging infrastructure, and requires plants to be operated in new and different ways.
- The United States has the 3rd largest hydropower and PSH fleet in the world, and the 7th largest PSH pipeline.