Perspectives: The Future is Now

Taking our annual journey to the future of hydropower in North America is always … enlightening.

This year we were fortunate to have a variety of sources available to help us tell readers of Hydro Review where hydroelectric power could be headed in the U.S. and Canada, and even provide a bit of a world view.

Future scenarios in the U.S. vary greatly depending on whether we will proceed under a “business as usual” scenario or take a leap and provide the technology and financing environment necessary to spur significant growth in hydro generating capacity. This data comes from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Hydropower Vision report, which was released in July 2016.

On a short-term timeline (through 2020), the variety of factors can make little difference in growing generation. But over a longer term (through 2050), things could change significantly, with potentially more than 30 GW of new hydropower coming online.

Read the article here for many more insights into U.S. hydropower, as well as some analysis of where Canada is heading in 2017 and how both fit into the global scene when it comes to hydroelectric power, as seen by the International Energy Administration.

Beyond new development, there is a significant challenge on the horizon for hydroelectricity in the U.S., and that is the more than 500 projects licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that will commence a relicensing process between 2016 and 2030. Collectively, these projects represent 30% of all licensed hydro capacity in the U.S.

The article here calls to attention one potential fly in the ointment … how FERC may treat license applications filed by a competitor seeking to wrest a particular hydro project from the existing licensee. Before anybody panics, the article does state: “To date, competing license applications have not resulted in the award of new licenses to competitors when an incumbent licensee is also pursuing a new license.” However, it is valuable for hydro project owners to know of this potential challenge and how they might deal with it in the future.

Finally, even the article here provides a view of the future. In this case, that future belongs to the hydropower fleet owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Through its Hydropower Modernization Initiative, the Corps has undertaken a major project designed to establish investment strategies across its extensive hydroelectric generating portfolio using risk prioritization.

The results will allow the Corps to prioritize its hydropower investments for many years into the future.

Speaking of the future, if you are needing work performed at your hydro facilities in 2017, we offer information – Featured Companies on page 34 and Hydro Marketplace on page 52 – on selected companies providing products and services to the hydropower market in North America. For easy access to a comprehensive database of suppliers of hydro- related products and services throughout the world, visit

Elizabeth Ingram
Managing Editor

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