I’m sure you’ve heard all about the growing desire for solar and wind expansion.
There’s even been a surge by companies like Apple and Google in building solar and wind farms to power some of their buildings (the pairing of SolarCity and Tesla that has put solar panels on the mass market comes immediately to mind).
However, what we don’t hear much about is hydropower. The technology to produce electricity using moving water has been utilized in the United States since the late 19th century, and the use of dams began during the first half of the 20th century.
Starting in the 1960’s, unfortunately, environmental concerns started to question the growth of this technology.
Environmentalists worried that dams would hurt ecosystems, and inefficiently operated dams were not producing enough energy to be worth the cost.
That attitude is changing…
As technology advances with innovations like the Internet of Things, it’s now much easier to identify and address problems with hydropower plants.
Here’s an example…
In the Penobscot River in Maine, a series of dams extended across several hundred miles, yet weren’t very efficient producing energy. So, a team of seven conservation groups paired with several scientists to figure out how to increase energy production and reduce the number of dams on the river.
Two dams were taken down in the end, and the rest were updated to better production standards.
The U.S. currently has approximately 80,000 dams, yet only 2,000 of them are used to produce electricity. And even though it’s unlikely that more dams will be built, new technologies will allow existing dams to be made into hydropower plants.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that hydropower production will grow by 5% in 2016. Rocío Uria-Martinez, energy researcher at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, estimates that just adapting existing dams to produce energy could increase the country’s hydropower capacity by 15-20% in coming years.
“Hydropower is, or it can be, a very viable complement for the other renewables,” says Uria-Martinez.
To continue reading…
Until next time,
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