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Fri Apr 27, 2012, 10:34 PM

Think hydro is tapped out? Think again...

Congressional Uncertainty Threatens 12,000-30,000 MW Of Possible Hydropower
By Stephen Lacey on Apr 27, 2012 at 10:40 am

(definitely go to link to see the map)

A new resource assessment of U.S. hydro potential finds that the industry could feasibly develop 12,000 megawatts of projects on existing non-powered dams around the country.

However, the inability of Congress to pass a production tax credit or help streamline permitting among regulatory agencies is threatening the hydro industry’s ability to get new projects constructed.

In a report released this month, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory found enormous potential for projects greater than 1 MW on existing dams around the country. There are more than 80,000 non-powered dams scattered throughout the U.S., with roughly 54,000 potentially suitable for energy projects.

Of those 54,000 non-powered dams — ranging from four feet to 770 feet in height — the researchers found about 12 GW of potential electrical generation capacity.

This follows a 2006 report from the Idaho National Laboratory that found roughly 30 GW of potential capacity in rivers around the country...


http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/04/27/472076/congressional-uncertainty-threatens-12000-30000-mw-of-possible-hydropower/

18 replies, 1954 views

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Response to kristopher (Original post)

Fri Apr 27, 2012, 11:37 PM

1. There were two attempts I know of to build a hydro plant on the Ohio

river near here and both times AEP killed it off.

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Response to doc03 (Reply #1)

Sat Apr 28, 2012, 09:07 PM

17. I don't know the specifics of those projects...

... but if they are related to the small scale undeveloped resources in the OP I'm not surprised the utility didn't want to invest in them. The value of hydro in a centralized grid is largely to provide bulk quantity, low per-unit cost baseload power.

With distributed renewables, however, the ability to ramp up and shut down quickly becomes a characteristic that provides a different economic niche that can justify spending money putting generators in all those small existing facilities that now just control water. The need for this power is similar to the economics behind the present systems peaking plants and it will command pretty high per-unit value.
A nice thing about is that due to the much smaller scale and investment required, most of the profits will probably not go to the utility, but to the local entity that now owns and operates the dam.

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Response to kristopher (Reply #17)

Sat Apr 28, 2012, 11:26 PM

18. In the first case a city in Ohio over a hundred miles from the Ohio river

received the rights to install a hydro generator on a local dam but AEP wouldn't let them connect to the grid. Then about 5
years ago a company from an eastern state was going to put generators on over a dozen dams and AEP killed that project
somehow. They don't want any competition with their coal fired plants. There is one town, New Martinsville WV, that put a generator on the dam inside their town and has made out very well with it. So all the potential electricity that could be generated on the Ohio just never got used.

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Response to kristopher (Original post)

Sat Apr 28, 2012, 09:52 AM

2. 12 GW is 15% of existing hydro capacity

Last edited Sat Apr 28, 2012, 11:09 AM - Edit history (1)

As the yeast said, "Look, we've only used 85% of the sugar in our jar! There's no problem - there's LOTS of sugar left!"

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #2)

Sat Apr 28, 2012, 12:32 PM

3. Then 30GW would be 37.5% of existing hydro capacity, right?

Which obviously says one thing to you and quite another to me. Being as you continue to restrict your thinking to what we need to duplicate the current coal/nuclear system, you apparently see that amount of untapped hydro as nothing worth mentioning.

However, those who actually understand the structure of a distributed grid built around our huge reservoir of wind and solar with their variable operating profile know that the key to making the system work is filling in around the wind and solar with distributed renewable sources that are dispatchable - a role these 12-30GW of well distributed hydro resources are suited to perfectly.

Together with the other choices we have available for distributed, dispatchable renewables and the rapidly evolving technologies for storage of excess wind/solar, we have everything we need to make a complete transition away from fossil fuels anytime we make the decision to do so.

See also: US Geothermal Power Potential 10x That Of Coal Power Plants, New Analysis Shows
http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=115x315070
http://www.smu.edu/News/2011/geothermal-24oct2011.aspx
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geothermal_electricity

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Response to kristopher (Reply #3)

Sat Apr 28, 2012, 02:18 PM

4. It's not that I "continue to restrict my thinking blah blah blah"

That's what it would tell me if I were you. But I'm not.

What it says to me is that we are talking about going after the last fruit on the highest branches of the tree.
That in turn tells me how near the limits we have come.
And that tells me it's time, not to look for more energy, but to look for new ways of being on and with the planet.

Sustainability will come not from wringing the last erg from the last flowing river, but from achieving balance with nature.

Here is how I see rivers now:

There is a river flowing now very fast.
It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid.
They will try to hold on to the shore.
They will feel they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly.
Know the river has its destination.
The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river,
keep our eyes open, and our heads above the water.

And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate.
At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally, least of all ourselves.

I'd rather go swimming in it than damn (sic) it.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #4)

Sat Apr 28, 2012, 03:20 PM

5. "the last fruit on the highest branches of the tree"??? Bullpuckey.

We have a huge, vast, enormous, stupendous, MASSIVE overabundance of natural energy sources.

Saying that tapping into the water power that is everywhere is akin to "The last fruit on the highest branches of the tree" is more absurd than your first try at spinning it as an inconsequential contributor.

Well, if we keep what we have you can try swimming next to the intake of a nuclear or coal plant's cooling system in the summer and the outlet in the winter. But be careful, you already seem to have gone off the deep end and you are clearly in over your head.
Oh, and be careful of bacterial contamination in the water from all the dead fish.

Why power plants use so much water and what to do about it

By AMY HARDBERGER | Published: MARCH 29, 2010
Can you name the single largest user of water in the United States?

If you said power plants, you were right (see chart below)! More water is required to run power plants than any other industry. In Texas, approximately 157,000 million gallons (482,100 acre-feet) of water annually – enough water for over 3 million people for a year, each using 140 gallons per person per day – are consumed for cooling the state’s thermoelectric power plants while generating approximately 400 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity. Because of this, water is an important consideration in power plant planning.

In New York state, power plant water use is causing some big problems. Daily withdrawals of more than 20 million gallons have annually killed 17 billion fish in various stages of life. Regulators are trying to address the problem by requiring the installation of closed-loop cooling, which would reduce water requirements by 93-98%. Is that a good idea? It depends. Simply requiring one type of cooling system may not consider all the factors which is important because retrofitting all existing plants can be very expensive and can lead to unintended consequences. ...


http://blogs.edf.org/texaswatersolutions/2010/03/29/why-power-plants-use-so-much-water-and-what-to-do-about-it/

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Response to kristopher (Reply #5)

Sat Apr 28, 2012, 03:52 PM

6. "15% (or even 37.5%) more hydro and we're done" is last-fruit thinking.

If you were talking about wind, I'd agree - to a certain extent. But hydro is not where we're going to find the energy to power Industrial Civilization on a 4% growth curve into the 2100's. Nor, of course, is nuclear. And if we try to do it with coal or even natural gas there may not be any 2100s, at least not industrially civilized ones.

As far as I can tell, we have only two options for long-term survival: wind power or a change of story. Given all the other damage we're doing to the planet that won't be alleviated by simply choosing wind power to do it with, I choose changing the story.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #6)

Sat Apr 28, 2012, 04:24 PM

7. Who are you quoting, your straw man?

Which obviously says one thing to you and quite another to me. Being as you continue to restrict your thinking to what we need to duplicate the current coal/nuclear system, you apparently see that amount of untapped hydro as nothing worth mentioning.

However, those who actually understand the structure of a distributed grid built around our huge reservoir of wind and solar with their variable operating profile know that the key to making the system work is filling in around the wind and solar with distributed renewable sources that are dispatchable - a role these 12-30GW of well distributed hydro resources are suited to perfectly.

Together with the other choices we have available for distributed, dispatchable renewables and the rapidly evolving technologies for storage of excess wind/solar, we have everything we need to make a complete transition away from fossil fuels anytime we make the decision to do so.


See also: US Geothermal Power Potential 10x That Of Coal Power Plants, New Analysis Shows
http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=115x315070
http://www.smu.edu/News/2011/geothermal-24oct2011.aspx
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geothermal_electricity

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Response to kristopher (Reply #7)

Sat Apr 28, 2012, 05:48 PM

8. No, I'm saying I don't want any more power in the grid from any source.

That's my preference. I see the possibility of shifting away from fossil fuels as part of a transition to a lower-activity future.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #8)

Sat Apr 28, 2012, 05:53 PM

9. The only shifting I see...

...is your supposed "position" from one moment to the next.

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Response to kristopher (Reply #9)

Sat Apr 28, 2012, 05:54 PM

10. It's called "learning".

I highly recommend it.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #10)

Sat Apr 28, 2012, 05:57 PM

11. That is not what a review of this thread reveals.

It shows a dedicated attempt to say something - anything - bad about positive news for renewable technologies.

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Response to kristopher (Reply #11)

Sat Apr 28, 2012, 06:05 PM

12. No kris. That is your interpretation of it.

You're deeply psychologically invested in renewable energy technologies as the way to keep the game going. As a result any demurral, for any reason, feels to you like a personal attack. That reaction skews your objectivity. It makes it difficult-to-impossible for you to ascribe honest, authentic, independent, good-faith motivation to those who disagree in any way with your position.

ETA: Good god, man - I'm against nuclear power, I'm against fossil fuels, I'm pro-wind. What's it going to take?

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #12)

Sat Apr 28, 2012, 06:12 PM

13. So that's why you created the straw man, because I lack objectivity?

Sure it is. It's also why you've shifted the rationale for your so called "good-faith" attempt to belittle this good news 3 times - because I lack objectivity.

Got it.

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Response to kristopher (Reply #13)

Sat Apr 28, 2012, 06:38 PM

14. Back a number of years, when I was deeply mired in my despair, you tried to help.

You suggested I was suffering from depression. It was true, though I couldn't see that until much later. Now I'd like to return the favour.

You're exhibiting symptoms of paranoia. You have been for a number of years, but most people are either too polite or too reactive to point it out. I think you might benefit from some counseling.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #14)

Sat Apr 28, 2012, 08:13 PM

15. Your posts are what your posts are.

Attacking me changes nothing at all about what is written above.

-First you pooh-pooh the inventory of undeveloped hydro as inconsequential because it isn't enough.

-Then you claim it is a sign of desperation that we are reduced to that sort of scrounging for power; and oh, by the way, it is going to stop you from enjoying a swim in a natural setting.

- After having your two factually baseless opinions disparaging this inventory of undeveloped hydro shot down, you next move onto creating a straw man and sneering at the very possibility of a future at all for our culture.

- When that is pointed out I become irrationally invested in renewables and paranoid for having the audacity to point out the substantial errors and lack of basic reasoning that characterize your critiques.

Thank you for your concern.

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Response to kristopher (Reply #15)

Sat Apr 28, 2012, 08:38 PM

16. So be it.

I'm sorry you feel that way.

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