50 by 2050: Pathways for Growth
The U.S. Energy Department's Hydropower Vision Report shows that clean and renewable hydropower is available and can play a larger role in securing our clean energy future. The report finds that hydropower’s capacity can increase by nearly 50 gigawatts by 2050 in the following areas:
- 4.8 GW of new development on non-powered dams
- 6.3 GW in upgrades on existing hydropower
- 35.5 GW of new pumped storage projects
- 1.7 GW in new stream-reach development
The Potential of Hydropower
There are 80,000 dams dotted across America’s landscape
Their current primary use is for flood control and irrigation. Surprisingly, 97% of those existing dams are not equipped to generate power. While the overwhelming majority of our dams sit idle, the 3% of dams that do produce energy account for nearly 7 percent of the nation’s electricity production – and half of its renewable electricity.
Hydropower has significant and real potential for increased capacity. In fact, the Department of Energy has determined that we could add up to 12 GW of new clean renewable capacity to our nation’s non-powered dams. An outdated licensing process, however, prevents hydropower from realizing its full potential, as it can take up to 10 years to license a new project or relicense an existing one.
Tapping into hydropower’s potential starts with modernizing the process. No one should be satisfied with a government process that stifles our most important renewable energy resource.