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Stanford University institute releases U.S. hydropower joint statement of collaboration

The Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment has released a Joint Statement of Collaboration on U.S. Hydropower: Climate Solution and Conservation Challenge.

According to the institute’s website, the statement is the result of a diverse range of organizations, companies, government agencies and universities committed to charting hydropower’s role in a U.S. clean energy future in a way that also supports healthy rivers. To rapidly and substantially decarbonize the nation’s electricity system, the parties to the Joint Statement recognize the role that U.S. hydropower plays as an important renewable energy resource and for integrating variable solar and wind power into the U.S. electric grid. At the same time, our nation’s waterways, and the biodiversity and ecosystem services they sustain, are vulnerable to the compounding factors of a changing climate, habitat loss and alteration of river processes.

The parties have identified seven areas for joint collaboration:

1. Accelerate development of hydropower technologies and practices to improve generation efficiency, environmental performance, and solar and wind integration

2. Advocate for improved U.S. dam safety

3. Increase basin-scale decision-making and access to river-related data

4. Improve the measurement, valuation of and compensation for hydropower flexibility and reliability services and support for enhanced environmental performance

5. Advance effective river restoration through improved off-site mitigation strategies

6. Improve federal hydropower licensing, relicensing and license surrender processes

7. Advocate for increased funding for U.S. dam rehabilitation, retrofits and removals

Per the statement, there are more than 90,000 existing dams throughout the country, of which about 2,500 have hydropower facilities for electricity generation. In the next decade, close to 30 percent of U.S. hydropower projects will come up for relicensing. As such, the parties focused on three potential opportunities:

• Rehabilitating powered and non-powered dams to improve safety, increase climate resilience and mitigate environmental impacts;

• Retrofitting powered dams and adding generation at non-powered dams to increase renewable generation; developing pumped storage capacity at existing dams; and enhancing dam and reservoir operations for water supply, fish passage, flood mitigation and grid integration of solar and wind; and

• Removing dams that no longer provide benefits to society, have safety issues that cannot be cost-effectively mitigated or have adverse environmental impacts that cannot be effectively addressed.

Over the next 60 days, the parties will invite other key stakeholders, including tribal governments and state officials, to join the collaboration and will address implementation priorities, decision-making, timetables and resources.

The Joint Statement was developed under a Stanford Uncommon Dialogue co-convened by Stanford’s Woods Institute for the Environment, the Stanford Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance, and the Energy Futures Initiative.

Parties to the Joint Statement of Collaboration are American Rivers, World Wildlife Fund, Union of Concerned Scientists, Great River Hydro, American Whitewater, Natel Energy, National Hydropower Association, Eagle Creek Renewables, Low Impact Hydropower Institute, Rye Development, Hydropower Reform Coalition and Hydropower Foundation.