Thursday, December 4, 2014

US hydropower needs new cost-effective technologies

Hydropower is clean energy source with a very long history of use in United States. There is plenty of untapped hydropower potential across the entire United States. According to the recent study done by the US Energy Department there is more than 50 GW of potential hydropower capacity at low-head sites (the sites that operate with a change in elevation between 2 and 20 meters).

Though wind and solar receive a lion share of public attention in United States, hydropower must not be overlooked because this is clean, reliable and sustainable source of energy. In fact, US Energy Department recently announced funding of $4.4 million for two projects in Michigan and Pennsylvania which support „the use of advanced materials and manufacturing techniques in the development of new “low-head” hydropower technologies“.

There should be more funds for research and development of these new technologies. The quick manufacturing process combined with the low costs and rapid deployment is the key for better cost-competitiveness on global energy market, not just for hydropower but for all other energy sources. Each clean energy source needs to show cost-competitiveness on global energy market.

In this sense, the low-cost, integrated hydropower turbine and generator sets made with modern materials and advanced manufacturing technologies should result in better efficiency at many low-head sites and provide cost-effective clean electricity.

Though hydropower is one of the oldest and most reliable energy sources it still needs new technologies that would aim to maximize efficiency and improve the design, performance and durability of hydroelectric power stations.