The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) and the National Hydropower Association (NHA) held a briefing on the most recent developments in advanced hydropower and ocean renewable energy technologies and how it fits into energy bills coming before the House and Senate in summer 2007. Existing conventional hydropower represents 75 percent of current U.S. renewable energy generation (over 270,000 GWh). A recent Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) report entitled "Assessment of Waterpower Potential and Development Needs" finds additional potential for waterpower technologies--including small and low-power conventional hydro, capacity gains at existing hydro facilities, new hydropower at existing dams, ocean wave technologies and hydrokinetic technologies—is conservatively estimated at 23,000 MW by 2025. Capacity gains at existing facilities from improved turbine design can be significant. Preliminary results from DOE's advanced turbine at Grant County Public Utility District shows a 14 percent increase in power output. Hydrokinetic power projects generate electricity from moving water (river currents, tidal currents, and ocean waves and currents) without the need for additional dams or impoundments.
The briefing discussed the results of the EPRI report, hydro and water power potentials, the state of ocean renewable technologies, hydrokinetic technologies, results seen from new turbine designs installed at Wanapum Dam in Grant County, WA, and policies needed to stimulate these technologies including the Production Tax Credit (PTC), Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) and R&D funding.
To reaffirm hydropower’s vital role in ensuring clean energy for the future, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) on May 11 introduced the Clean Energy Investment Assurance Act of 2007 (S. 1370). The bill provides tax parity for qualifying hydropower resources and a long-term extension of the PTC and extension and additional funding of the CREBs program for hydropower facilities and emerging waterpower technologies. The legislation adds new zero carbon-emissions resources to the PTC. This inclusion opens the door for greater development of new waterpower technologies, such as ocean, tidal, and in-stream hydrokinetic systems.