Wednesday, October 10, 2012

How the U.S. Is Getting More Hydropower without Building a Single New Dam

The U.S. has 2,400 hydropower dams, many of which sport out-of-date generating equipment that is, well, generations old.

That’s the bad news. The good news is, it all adds up to the potential for a massive energy efficiency upgrade program that could significantly boost U.S. hydropower generation without the monumental expense and environmental disruption involved in new dam construction. In fact, the first round of hydropower upgrades is already underway at an average cost of less than 4 cents per kilowatt-hour.

A Hydropower Upgrade for Boulder, Colorado

The Boulder Canyon Hydroelectric Facility in Boulder, Colorado is a case in point. Dating all the way back to 1910, the facility just underwent an overhaul that replaced two older turbines with one new energy-efficient unit. The new unit alone can generate 30% more energy than both of the older turbines combined.

The upgrades can also cut the energy required to run hydropower facilities. At Boulder, the $1.18 million project included new transformers, storage tanks, and wiring, along with remote operating equipment. More



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