A hydropower dam among grassy fields and trees

The January 2021 edition of the U.S. Hydropower Market Report is the third complete edition of this report (the first two were the 2014 and 2017 Hydropower Market Report published in 2015 and 2018, respectively). In intervening years between publishing the full report, updated data are also summarized and released, and can be found at the Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL) HydroSource website. This report combines data from public and commercial sources, as well as research findings from other U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) R&D projects to provide a comprehensive picture of developments in the U.S. hydropower and pumped-storage hydropower fleet and industry trends.

The report highlights developments in 2017–2019 (the years for which new data has become available since the publication of the 2017 Hydropower Market Report), and contextualizes this information compared to evolving high-level trends over the past 10–20 years. Apart from presenting trends over time, the report discusses differences in those trends by region, plant size, owner type, or other attributes. This “In Brief” section highlights some of the key points of interest, including charts and visuals, from the seven chapters in the report.

Key Messages

  1. U.S PSH capacity grew over the past decade by almost as much as all other U.S.energy storage combined(almost all growth of other storage occurred over the last decade, and was mostly all batteries)
  2. Interest in PSH in the U.S. continues to grow significantly(doubling of project pipeline over 5 years)
  3. Geographic interest in U.S. PSH has expanded as well(new projects being explored in PA, VA, WY, OK, OH, NY)
  4. Significant and growing interest in PSH internationally(53GW of capacity across 50 projects were under construction globally at the end of 2019)
  5. Hydropower generation (274 TWh) represented 6.6% of U.S. electricity generation and 38% of electricity from renewables in 2019 (Canadian imports contributed an additional 36 TWhof hydroelectricity in 2019)
  6. Hydropower “punches above its weight” regarding provision of various ancillary services(compared to % of installed capacity, in nearly every region and metric analyzed, including black start, 1-hour ramps, frequency regulation and reserves)
  7. In 2019, hydropower capacity (80.25 GW) accounted for 6.7% of U.S. installed electricity generation capacity(hydropower capacity has increased by a net of 431 MW in 2017-2019 mostly through capacity increases at existing facilities, new hydropower in conduits and canals, and by powering non-powered dams)
  8. 670 MW of hydro (129 Projects) have licensing completed but have not moved into construction(more than half of the projects had been in that state for 3 years or more)
  9. FERC relicensing activity is set to more than double in the coming decade(almost half of the PSH fleet)

Read the full report and summary to learn more.

Learn More About Hydropower

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Pumped-storage hydropower is the most dominant form of energy storage on the electric grid today. It also plays an important role in bringing more renewable resources on to the grid.
U.S. Department of Energy