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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and its Oak Ridge National Laboratory have released a renewable energy resource assessment detailing the potential to develop new electric power generation in waterways across the U.S.

According to the New Stream-reach Development Assessment, there are over 65 GW of potential new hydropower development across more than 3 million rivers and streams - nearly equivalent to current U.S. hydropower capacity.

Hydropower, the DOE notes, makes up 7% of total U.S. electricity generation and continues to be the country's largest source of renewable electricity. The energy department adds that hydropower provides reliable baseload power day and night, supporting greater flexibility and diversity on the electric grid and allowing utilities to integrate other renewable sources, such as wind and solar power.

The DOE says the report capitalizes on recent advancements in geospatial data sets and represents the most detailed evaluation of U.S. hydropower potential at undeveloped streams and rivers to date. The greatest hydropower potential, the DOE reports, is found in western states, including Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. Kansas, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Wyoming lead the rest of the nation in new stream-reach hydropower potential.

The report builds on a 2012 energy department assessment that found over 12 GW of hydropower potential at the nation's existing 80,000 non-powered dams. The DOE says the latest results show that there are still many opportunities to develop new hydropower projects around the U.S., most of which would likely be smaller, run-of-river facilities that could utilize new low-impact designs and technologies.

"The United States has tremendous untapped clean energy resources, and responsible development will help pave the way to a cleaner, more sustainable and diverse energy portfolio," says Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.

The full report can be found here.


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