Full Title: An Assessment of Energy Potential at Non-Powered Dams in the United States
Author(s): Boualem Hadjerioua, Yaxing Wei and Shih-Chieh Kao
Publisher(s): U.S. Department of Energy
Publication Date: April 1, 2012
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The United States has produced clean, renewable electricity from hydropower for more than 100 years, but hydropower-producing facilities represent only a fraction of the infrastructure development that has taken place on the nation’s waterways. In contrast to the roughly 2,500 dams that provide 78 gigawatts (GW)1 of conventional and 22 GW of pumped-storage hydropower, the United States has more than 80,000 non-powered dams (NPDs)—dams that do not produce electricity—providing a variety of services ranging from water supply to inland navigation. Importantly, many of the monetary costs and environmental impacts of dam construction have already been incurred at NPDs, so adding power to the existing dam structure can often be achieved at lower cost, with less risk, and in a shorter timeframe than development requiring new dam construction. The abundance, cost, and environmental favorability of NPDs, combined with the reliability and predictability of hydropower, make these dams a highly attractive source for expanding the nation’s renewable energy supply.