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US to boost development of hydropower

Three US departments have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to increase production of hydropower while reducing environmental impacts and enhancing ecosystem viability.

The MoU between the Department of Energy (DoE), Department of the Interior (DoI), and the Army Corps of Engineers will increase communication between federal agencies and strengthen the long-term relationship to prioritise the generation and development of sustainable hydropower.

“While hydropower is the largest source of renewable electricity in the nation, hydropower capacity has not increased significantly in decades,” says Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “As the single largest owner of hydropower generation in the United States, it is important for the federal government to tap this valuable asset so it can continue to contribute to our clean energy portfolio and energy security.”

Objectives of the MoU

The MoU will identify specific Federal facilities that will be well-suited as sites for sustainable hydropower and will upgrade facilities and demonstrate new technologies at existing hydropower locations. It will coordinate R&D on advanced hydropower technologies and increase hydro generation through low-impact and environmentally sustainable approaches.

It will also integrate policies at the federal level and collaborate to identify total incremental hydropower resources at federal facilities. The MoU represents “a new approach to hydropower development,” the officials claim.

“As we build our clean energy economy here at home, we must explore and develop new technologies and new strategies for increasing hydropower generation in an environmentally sustainable manner,” adds DoI Secretary Ken Salazar.  “With better coordination among federal agencies, a common-sense approach, and a focus on low-impact hydropower projects, we can supply more clean power for our economy.”

Action items

The MoU is supported by detailed action items identified by the agencies as areas of collaboration, including Technology Development & Deployment; Green Hydropower Certification; Federal Inland Hydropower Coordination; Renewable Energy Integration & Energy Storage; and Regulatory Process Facilitation.

The MoU provides an opportunity for DoE to connect its hydropower research efforts with the agencies that operate and regulate federal water projects. The US Army Corps of Engineers and DoI’s Bureau of Reclamation are the first and second largest hydropower owners in the United States, with combined facilities of 34 GW (half of the hydropower capacity in the US).

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