Connecting Waterpeople

DOE announces $200 million to modernize and expand hydropower

  • DOE announces $200 million to modernize and expand hydropower

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U.S Department of Energy
The mission of the Energy Department is to ensure America’s security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions.

The Biden-Harris Administration, through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced more than $200 million for the modernization and expansion of hydroelectric power throughout America and the advancement of new marine energy technologies. With today’s investment, supported by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed under President Biden, DOE is now accepting applications for two hydroelectric incentives—within the Hydroelectric Incentives Program, which is focused on maintaining and enhancing hydroelectric facilities to ensure generators continue to provide clean power, while improving dam safety and reducing environmental impacts. Hydropower, in all forms, will increase the availability of reliable energy, helping achieve President Biden’s goal of 100% clean electricity by 2035.

“Water power is the nation’s oldest source of renewable energy and an integral part of the suite of clean energy solutions that we must continue to deploy in our fight against climate change,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “The President's clean energy agenda is providing the investments necessary to further grow and improve existing hydropower fleets while supporting the next wave of water power technologies, ensuring a steady flow of cheap and reliable power to more Americans.”

Hydropower is a key component of renewable energy generation and currently provides 6% of all electricity in the United States. However, less than 3% of the nation’s more than 90,000 dams currently produce power. Adding generation equipment to these sites could add up to 12 gigawatts of new hydropower capacity to the U.S. electric system and provide reliable, affordable power to communities across the nation.

DOE’s Hydroelectric Programs

The Hydroelectric Incentives Program, administered by DOE’s Grid Deployment Office, has issued application guidance and opened two solicitations. The Hydroelectric Production Incentives will provide up to $125 million in incentive payments to qualified hydroelectric facilities for electricity generated and sold in calendar years 2021 and 2022.  

The Hydroelectric Efficiency Improvement Incentives will invest $75 million to enable the implementation of capital improvements to boost efficiency.

In addition to supporting efficiency and modernization efforts in existing hydroelectric facilities, DOE is announcing investments to advance new marine energy technologies and grow the hydropower and marine energy workforce.

  • Today, DOE also announced a slate of efforts to help advance hydropower and marine energy technologies and their future workforce: The Innovating Distributed Embedded Energy Prize: Awards up to $2.3 million to competitors investigating novel technologies for harnessing and converting the power of ocean waves into usable types of energy such as electricity.
  • The Hydropower Collegiate Competition and the Marine Energy Collegiate Competition: These two competitions help undergraduate and graduate students prepare for jobs in hydropower, marine energy, and related industries by challenging them to develop unique solutions to advance these technologies.
  • Marine Energy Graduate Student Research Program:  Through this program, five students will undertake research to advance the understanding and development of marine energy resources through work with DOE’s national laboratories and other government and industry partners, including the Department of Defense.

Ocean energy, a type of marine energy, was highlighted yesterday in the White House's the first Ocean Climate Action Plan, a groundbreaking roadmap to advance immediate, transformational steps to protect ocean health and address the climate crisis.

Engaging Communities to Inform Hydropower Research and Development

Earlier in March 2023, DOE announced $3.7 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for a project to deepen relationships and trust between hydropower and river stakeholders to better incorporate community priorities in hydropower R&D activities.

Learn more about DOE’s investments through the Grid Deployment Office and the Water Power Technologies Office.

President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is growing the American economy from the bottom up and middle-out – from rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, to creating a manufacturing and innovation boom powered by good-paying jobs that don’t require a four-year degree, to building a clean-energy economy that will combat climate change and make our communities more resilient.

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