Last week, the U.S. Department of Energy (“DOE”) released an update (“2018 Update”) to its 2017 U.S. Hydropower Market Report (“2017 Report”).  The 2018 Update provides a status report on the U.S. hydropower industry as of the end of 2018, and includes publicly available data and information on existing U.S. hydropower facilities, including trends on capacity, generation, and new investment.

In April 2018, DOE issued the 2017 Report to provide comprehensive information on the hydropower industry and existing hydropower facilities in the United States.  DOE explained that the Report was intended to fill the gap in publicly available information regarding U.S. hydropower fleet attributes, performance, development activity, and supply chain.  The 2017 Report identified challenges and opportunities for new and existing hydropower facilities using publicly available datasets and information collected from DOE hydropower research and design projects.

The 2018 Update focused on the following areas: (1) installed capacity and generation trends; (2) regional generation and drought trends; (3) investments on rehabilitations and upgrades to existing hydropower facilities; (4) conventional and pumped storage project development; (5) trends of hydraulic turbine imports and exports; and (5) legislative and market drivers.  The 2018 Update concluded that:

  • Installed U.S. hydropower capacity increased by approximately 200 megawatts in 2018;
  • Hydropower generation decreased by 3% in 2018, largely due to below-average snowpack in parts of the West;
  • An estimated $500 million investment was made into rehabilitations and upgrades of existing hydropower in 2018;
  • 243 hydropower projects were at some stage of the development process at the end of 2018;
  • All new large hydropower projects (greater than 100 MW) are pumped storage hydropower or capacity additions; private developers are most common except for conduit projects;
  • The number of hydropower projects that received federal authorization for construction in 2018 was the lowest since 2009; and
  • S. hydraulic turbine export and import values increased by 9% relative to 2017 values.

A copy of the 2018 Update is available here.