Hydropower in the United States has potential to quadruple capacity, Navigant Consulting director says

Hydropower’s total capacity has potential to reach four times its current amount in the United States, with job creation expanding exponentially as well, research from Navigant Consulting Inc. suggests.

Navigant Consulting Managing Director Lisa Frantzis discussed these research findings during a HydroWorld.com interview at the recent Renewable Energy World Conference and Expo North America 2010 in Austin, Texas.

Currently, hydropower represents about 7 percent of U.S. electricity generation, with about 100,000 megawatts of capacity. However, Navigant Consulting research suggests hydropower’s technical potential is around 400,000 megawatts of capacity, Frantzis said.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity, and I think it is sort of an unknown secret,” she said.

With increased hydro capacity comes increased hydro industry employment, Frantzis said, noting that up to 700,000 jobs could be directly or indirectly related to hydropower by 2025 if potential industry growth is met. Those jobs, she said, would reach all corners of the United States. Currently, the U.S. supports 200,000 to 300,000 hydropower-related jobs. 

The job creation projections are based on a 25 percent renewable energy standard by 2025.

Frantzis said: “There is a tremendous opportunity in the hydropower sector, not only with jobs, but in terms of megawatts of installations. And I think the other exciting thing is that the opportunity would create jobs across the U.S., which is also a real benefit.”

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