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Hydroelectric power in the United States 

Hydroelectric power stations in the United States are currently the largest renewable source of energy, but the second for nominal capacity (behind Wind power in the United States). Hydroelectric power produced 35% of the total renewable electricity in the U.S. in 2015, and 6.1% of the total U.S. electricity.

Hydroelectric stations exist in at least 34 US states. The largest concentration of hydroelectric generation in the US is in the Columbia River basin, which in 2012 was the source of 44% of the nationís hydroelectricity. Hydroelectricity projects such as Hoover Dam, Grand Coulee Dam, and the Tennessee Valley Authority have become iconic large construction projects.
Of note, however, is that California does not consider power generated from large hydroelectric facilities (facilities greater than 30 megawatts) to meet its strictest definition of "renewable", due to concerns over the environmental impact of large hydroelectric projects. As such, electricity generated from large hydroelectric facilities does not count toward California's strict Renewable Portfolio Standards. Roughly about 10 to 15 percent of California“s energy generation is from large hydroelectric generation that is not RPS-eligible.
The earliest hydroelectric power generation in the U.S. was utilized for lighting and employed the better understood direct current (DC) system to provide the electrical flow. It did not flow far however, with ten miles being the system's limit; solving electricity's transmission problems would come later and be the greatest incentive to the new hydroelectric water-power developments.
Recognizing that the great hydroelectric potential of the Falls exceeded the local demand for electricity, a large power company was established nonetheless at the prime location for development; it awaited the prospect of an effective long-distance power transmission system. Westinghouse Electric won the competition, developing their plans around an alternating current system. The station was completed in 1895 and in 1896, electricity transmission 20 miles away to Buffalo, New York began. This event also began the rise to dominance of the AC system over Thomas Edison's direct current methods. Multiple permanent hydropower stations still exist on both the American and Canadian sides of the Falls, including the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant, the third largest in the United States.
The need to provide rural development in the early 20th century was often coupled to the availability of electric power and led to large-scale projects like the Tennessee Valley Authority which created numerous dams and, sometimes controversially, flooded large areas. In the 1930s, the need for power in the Southwest led to the building of the largest concrete construction in the world at that time, the Hoover Dam. The Grand Coulee Dam was both a power and irrigation project of the 1930s that was expanded for military industrial reasons during World War II which also saw other dams such as the TVA's Fontana Dam built.
Dam building peaked in the 1960s and few dams were built in the 1970s. The growing awareness of environmental issues with dams saw the removal of some older and smaller dams and the installation of fish ladders at others. Instead of new dams, repowering old stations has increased the capacity of several facilities. For instance, Hoover Dam replaced its generators between 1986 and 1993. The need to alter downstream waterflow for ecological reasons (eliminating invasive species, sedimentation, etc.) has led to regulated seasonal drawdowns at some dams, changing the availability of water for power generation. Droughts and increased agricultural use of water can also lead to generation limits.
Another application of hydroelectricity is Pumped-storage hydroelectricity which does not create a net gain in power but enables peak demand balancing. Water is pumped from a lower elevation source into a higher one and only released through generators when electric demand is high. In 2019 the United States had 21.5 GW of pumped storage generating capacity, accounting for 2.5% of baseload generating capacity. Bath County Pumped Storage Station is the largest such facility in the world. Other stations of this type include Raccoon Mountain Pumped-Storage Plant, Bear Swamp Hydroelectric Power Station and Ludington Pumped Storage Power Plant on Lake Michigan and previously the largest in the world.







Member of IWOCE RC PBC 2019:


Roberto Di Cosmo

Definitions of different ecosystems

Research Proposal

Software Component Definition

History alternative energy

Enabling  technologies

Renewable energy vs non-renewable energy

Relatively new concepts for alternative energy

Research alternative energy

Disadvantages alternative energy