U.S. hydropower generation increased 6.9 percent in 2006

Hydropower production in the U.S. increased by 6.9 percent in 2006, reaching its highest level since 2003, according to preliminary statistics by the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration.

Generation from conventional hydroelectric projects increased to 288.3 billion kilowatt-hours in 2006, EIA said. While that number is the highest level achieved since 2003, the 2006 output was not as high as levels seen during the high water years of the late 1990s, EIA said. Furthermore, hydroelectric generation actually declined substantially in the Southeast, only to be more than offset by gains in the Northwest.

Renewable energy’s share of the electricity market totaled 7 percent in 2006, slightly more than in 2005. The EIA report of preliminary data also indicates total consumption of energy from renewables increased between 2005 and 2006.

Conventional hydroelectric generation accounted for 18 billion kWh of the 27 billion kWh increase in renewables generation. Of the electricity generated by renewables in 2006, conventional hydropower contributed 42 percent to that amount, second only to biomass, which contributed 48 percent, and ahead of geothermal with 5 percent, wind 4 percent, and solar 1 percent.

Total U.S. net summer capacity for all energy sources increased by 10,049 MW in 2006 to 988,069 MW, while renewables capacity expanded to 101,383 MW. Renewables accounted for 2,637 MW, or 26 percent of the national capacity increase.

Wind capacity increased more than any other renewable source in 2006 with 2,413 MW of new capacity. By contrast, hydroelectric capacity was essentially flat at 77,629 MW, increasing only 88 MW.

The report, �Renewable Energy Consumption and Electricity Preliminary 2006 Statistics,� was released in August. It can be obtained from the Internet at www.eia.doe.gov. The report is on the site’s �Renewable and Alternative Fuels� link.

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