Accelerating a carbon-free electricity grid

Hydropower is essential to our clean energy future. Solar, wind and battery storage may grab the headlines, yet a simple truth is often overlooked: we can’t achieve deep decarbonization of our electricity system without hydropower.

Why? Because hydropower is the nation’s first renewable resource, providing clean, carbon-free energy to roughly 30 million Americans, and 40 percent of the United States’ overall renewable electricity. In addition, hydropower is flexible enough to integrate increasing amounts of wind and solar onto the grid. That flexibility allows it to quickly provide dispatchable generation to balance the minute-by-minute electricity generation variations caused by cloud cover, wind gusts, or fuel-supply disruptions from non-renewable resources.

Recognizing that hydropower is a climate solution, NHA, American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA),  and Energy Storage Association (ESA) have announced a shared vision of renewables reaching a majority of U.S. electricity generation by 2030

Stats: Hydropower in America

  • According to the Department of Energy, in 2019, hydropower capacity (80.25 GW) in 2,270 Hydropower Plants in the U.S. accounted for 6.7% of installed electricity generation capacity in the United States and its generation (274 TWh) represented 6.6% of all electricity generated and 38% of electricity from renewables produced in the U.S.
  • Three main classifications of hydropower facility ownership: federal, public, and private.
  • The three main federal agencies authorized by Congress to own and operate hydropower: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), Reclamation, and the TVA. These agencies operate about 49% of the total installed hydropower capacity through ownership and operation of about 10% of the total number of hydropower facilities.
  • Public ownership includes public utility districts, irrigation districts, states, and rural cooperatives, whose hydropower resources consist of about 24% of total installed U.S. capacity and 27% of the total number of hydropower facilities
  • Private owners, including investor-owned utilities, independent power producers, and industrial companies, control about 25% of total installed capacity and 63% of the total number of plants.