ANNEX II - Small Scale Hydropower - IEA Implementing Agreement


Last updated in 1997 - The United States of America has an area of 9.37 x 106 km2 and a population of about 263.8 million.

Water resource

The main agencies for water resources development and management are the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Reclamation (Buree).

USACE provides support to the other Government agencies, in particular the: Environment Protection Agency, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Department of Energy, Interior, Justice, State, housing and Urban Development, as well as state and local government.

USACE had 75 hydro projects (20 720 MW, 77.4 TWh/year) at the end of September 1995. During 1998, it is continuing major hydropower rehabilitation work at nine projects. These include: Bonneville and The Dalles in (Oregon/Washington), thurmond (Georgia), Garrison (North Dakota), W.E George (Alabama/Georgia), Woodruff (Florida/Georgia), Buford (Georgia), Dardanelle (Arkansas) and Hartwell (Georgia). Additionally, USACE has variou construction projects under way to repair and modify dams or safety purpose.

The USA has about 75 200 dams more than 1.83 m (6 feet) high, of which 6356 are higher than 15 m (50 feet). The total water strong volume of all reservoirs is 1302 km3. Less than 3 per cent of dams in the USA are owned by the Federal Government. The greatest use of large dams is flood control.

Of the 6356 large dams, 1649 are principally for flood control, 1160 are for water supply, 899 are for recreation, and 612 are for hydropower. A total of 2179 large dams are multipurpose. A further 248 large dams have hydropower as a secondary function. The highest dams under construction are Seven Oaks (168 m high), Eastside reservoir(three dams, 87 m) and Portegues (82 m).

Energy and power sectors

The USA has vast energy resources and is by far the largest producer and consumer of energy and power in the world. Despite producing more than 25 per cent of the world's electricity, however, it consumption significantly more energy than it produces.

The US Department of Energy is responsible for general energy use and protection. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission(FERC) licenses and regulates the construction and operation of non-federal hydro projects.

The main sources of energy production in 1995 were: coal (32.3 per cent), dry natural gas(28.4 per cent), crude oil (20.4 per cent), natural gas liquids (3.6 per cent),nuclear power (10.6 per cent), hydropower (4.48 per cent), geothermal energy production was 68 quadrillion BTU.

The main sources of electricity production in 1995 were: coal (55.2 per cent), nuclear (22.5 per cent), gas (10.26 per cent), hydro (9.897 per cent), petroleum (2.3 per cent), wind (0.0004 per cent), and photovoltaics (0.0001 per cent). The total power production was 2995 TWh.

Per capita domestic electricity consumption in the USA is 3982 kWh/year, while total per capita consumption is 11 483 kWh/year.

While USACE build and operates dams and hydro plants, for power it generates is marketed by the Department of Energy (DOE) to public bodies, power co-operatives and private utilities. Five regional power marketing agencies sell power from USACE projects.

Hydropower development

There is no official figure for gross theoretical hydropower potential in the USA, although a USACE study in 1979 indicated that, if all potential sites were fully developed, the USA could have as much as 512 GW of installed hydro capacity (equivalent to 4485 TWh/year of gross potential). The technically feasible capacity is estimated to be 146 700 MW (about 528 500 GWh/year). The economically feasible hydro potential is about 376 000 GWh/year.

The total powerplant capacity is about 750 GW, of which the hydro capacity is about 75 400 MW, which represents about 51 per cent of the technically feasible hydro capacity (of 146 700 MW). The production from hydro plants was 347 319 GWh in 1996.

There is a modest amount of additional hydro capacity under construction, and about 350 MW planned.

About 52 per cent of the hydro capacity in operation is privately owned by many different organizations: 24 per cent belongs to the USACE, 16 per cent to Burec, 6 per cent to the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), and 3 per cent to others. There are 14 292 MW of hydro capacity at 58 plants.

USACE estimated that about 1000 to 2000 MW of extra capacity could be obtained by upgrading is hydro plants.

There was 21 773 MW of installed capacity at pumped-storage plants in 1995.

Of the USA's 6356 large dams. Only 860 are used for hydropower generation, while of the total 75 200 dams, only 2744 are used for hydro generation. There is thus ample opportunity to add hydro generating facilities at existing dams.

Small hydro

There is about 3000 MW of small hydro capacity in operation in the USA. A further 40 MW is planned.

Further outlook

Hydro development is now restricted by extensive and complex regulatory procedures and environmental opposition. Lobbying by environmental organization has made it increasingly difficult to license hydro projects. Few new license are being issued by the FERC, while renewed license for many existing projects stipulate reduced generation possibilities.

The Government aims to promote development of renewable energy resources, including small scale hydro. In particular, a programme is under way to develop hydro turbine, design to minimize adverse environmental effects.
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Thank you. We hope you find the new Small-Hydro Gateway useful and informative!

Kearon Bennett, P. Eng.,
Operating Agent and Secretary
Annex II, Small Hydro
IEA Hydropower Agreement