The Hydropower Supply Chain Deep Dive Assessment is part of a series of reports produced in response to Executive Order 14017 “America’s Supply Chains,” which directs the Secretary of Energy to submit a report on supply chains for the energy sector industrial base. The Executive Order aims to help build more secure and diverse U.S. supply chains, including energy supply chains.
This report examines the hydropower supply chain to identify potential bottlenecks, challenges, and opportunities, particularly if the U.S. demand for hydropower components grows significantly to meet decarbonization targets.
It found that while the existing U.S. supply chain is mature and effectively supports the nation’s large hydropower fleet, anticipated new construction and the need to complete refurbishments, upgrades, and relicensing activities point to the need to scale up domestic supply chain activities.
Growth in U.S. demand for hydropower components and related services may arise from a combination of increased refurbishments and upgrades—partly connected to the wave of relicensing expected to take place during the 2020s—and construction of the new hydropower capacity needed to achieve clean energy goals. However, the U.S. hydropower supply chain faces vulnerabilities related to securing large components with long lead times, managing global disruptions, and maintaining a well-trained workforce.
Modernization of the existing hydropower fleet, along with new construction, could drive expansion of domestic manufacturing, reshoring, and foreign direct investment in the U.S. hydropower supply chain. Reshoring manufacturing of critical components—or those that are difficult or impossible to source domestically, such as large steel castings, forgings, and windings for generators—should be a high priority to improve supply chain resilience and meet increased U.S. demand for domestically produced hydropower components.