Micro-hydropower potential in man-made waterways

Michael Giberson

Earth Techling reports on the release of the latest report in the U.S. Department of Interior’s efforts to identify opportunities to develop small-scale hydropower projects within the DOI’s current water delivery systems in the Western United States. The goal of DOI’s project was to inventory potentially valuable locations and then invite developers to consider investing in projects. The most recent report indicates an annual potential for as much as 1.5 million MWh of energy to be generated.

Details from the Earth Techling summary:

These are all micro hydro sites, ranging in potential capacity from 125 kW to about 26 MW installed capacity. Fish would not be endangered because they are largely municipal water conduits.

The total clean energy produced would be equivalent to replacing one 260 -300 MW coal power station.

Since the hydropower projects probably would generate less power than the waterway itself uses, it might be more economical to consume the power ‘behind the meter’ rather than producing power for sale elsewhere. Possibly, however, the locations where the waterway uses power and the locations with good hydropower potential are distant from each other, so then sale off system could be more economic.

The DOI’s webpage for the project has several reports.

(The Earth Techling post ends with an odd political slam at Republicans, seemingly wistful for the good ol’ days of grand projects like the Hoover Dam. Apparently the inability to ram project’s down a region’s throat from the halls of government can be a bit constraining to people with big dreams.)


2 thoughts on “Micro-hydropower potential in man-made waterways

  1. The US uses about 4,000 billion KWh of electrcity every year. This can also be expressed as 4,000 TWh. 1.5 million MWh is 1.5 TWh, and is .04% of annual generation.

    This is you government at work spending money on non-solutions to problems that do not exist because natural gas is $2/MMBTU

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