The Biden Administration has announced funding worth $630m to modernise the United States’ hydropower facilities.
This week, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has released a request for information (RFI) calling for the public’s feedback to advise the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s $630m investment in hydropower facilities.
President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law invests in the ‘Maintaining and Enhancing Hydroelectricity Incentives’ and ‘Hydroelectric Efficiency Improvement Incentives’ programmes to transform the nation’s hydropower facilities and generate cleaner and more affordable power.
Investing in hydropower facilities
This investment will cover capital improvement projects and will ensure that hydropower facilities are more durable and energy-efficient. Water is a vital component for the generation of clean, carbon-free electricity; it is also integral to attaining the Biden Administration’s target of reaching a net zero emissions economy by 2050.
“Water is one of humankind’s oldest methods of generating energy, and with technological advancements, we can harness this renewable power as a core driver for the nation’s clean energy transition,” explained US Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “The investments from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law recognise that hydroelectricity is essential to strengthening the power grid and providing reliable, clean, and affordable energy for our communities as we transition to a net zero economy.”
At present, hydropower facilities – which utilise the flow of moving water to produce electricity –supply 6% of all electricity in the US and account for 32% of renewable electricity generation. As well as this, hydropower offers a much required solution to energy storage challenges, currently accounting for 93% of all utility-scale energy storage, which guarantees that power is accessible when consumers require it. However, numerous hydropower facilities are in desperate need of renovation in order to become more efficient or better integrated with other renewable energy sources.
Grid Deployment Office incentive programmes
The Maintaining and Enhancing Hydroelectricity Incentives programme, which is managed by DOE’s Grid Deployment Office (GDO), provides $553.6m in payments to encourage and augment current hydropower facilities. This is augmented through capital improvements, which are directly connected to three main areas: grid resiliency, dam safety, and environmental improvements.
The Hydroelectric Efficiency Improvement Incentives programme, which is also managed by GDO, provides a $75m in incentive payments to owners or operators of existing hydroelectric facilities who are eligible for funding. This is intended to encourage capital improvements that can increase efficiency by at least 3%.
This latest RFI seeks feedback from a variety of stakeholders, including industry, clean-energy advocates, and officials in areas that generate hydroelectricity. Feedback will be gathered on the structure of these programmes, timing and distribution of funds, definitions of capital improvements, and selection criteria.
Feedback must be received by 11:59 p.m. EDT on 6 September 2022 and can be sent to WPTORFI@ee.doe.gov.