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The potential of water power in the fight against global warming in the US


  • Kosnik, Lea


The leading cause of climate change today is the burning of fossil fuels related to energy production. One approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, therefore, is to more actively switch to renewable technologies in the production of electricity, and reduce the use of fossil fuels in electricity production. This is the goal of renewable portfolio standard (RPS) legislation, currently in effect in 28 states across the country. In this paper we discuss the potential for water power development as one method to reduce US greenhouse gas emissions. We look at the potential from (1) new small/micro hydropower dams, (2) uprating facilities at existing large hydropower dams, (3) new generating facilities at existing non-hydropower dams, and (4) hydrokinetics. We analyze this potential by type, by state, and by its ability to satisfy current RPS goals. Finally, we consider the cost-effectiveness of developing these sources of water-based energy. We find that while water power will never be the complete answer to emissions-free energy production, a strong case can be made that it can be a useful part of the answer.

Suggested Citation

  • Kosnik, Lea, 2008. "The potential of water power in the fight against global warming in the US," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(9), pages 3252-3265, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:36:y:2008:i:9:p:3252-3265

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    6. Kosnik, Lea, 2008. "Consolidation and ownership trends of nonfederal hydropower generating assets, 1980-2003," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 715-731, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Martinez, J.J. & Deng, Z.D. & Titzler, P.S. & Duncan, J.P. & Lu, J. & Mueller, R.P. & Tian, C. & Trumbo, B.A. & Ahmann, M.L. & Renholds, J.F., 2019. "Hydraulic and biological characterization of a large Kaplan turbine," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 240-249.
    2. Paudel, Shakun & Linton, Nick & Zanke, Ulrich C.E. & Saenger, Nicole, 2013. "Experimental investigation on the effect of channel width on flexible rubber blade water wheel performance," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 1-7.
    3. Leijon, Mats & Skoglund, Annika & Waters, Rafael & Rehn, Alf & Lindahl, Marcus, 2010. "On the physics of power, energy and economics of renewable electric energy sources – Part I," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 35(8), pages 1729-1734.
    4. Bazmi, Aqeel Ahmed & Zahedi, Gholamreza, 2011. "Sustainable energy systems: Role of optimization modeling techniques in power generation and supply—A review," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 15(8), pages 3480-3500.
    5. Kumar, Deepak & Katoch, S.S., 2016. "Environmental sustainability of run of the river hydropower projects: A study from western Himalayan region of India," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 599-607.
    6. Kelly-Richards, Sarah & Silber-Coats, Noah & Crootof, Arica & Tecklin, David & Bauer, Carl, 2017. "Governing the transition to renewable energy: A review of impacts and policy issues in the small hydropower boom," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 251-264.
    7. Sandt, Christopher J. & Doyle, Martin W., 2013. "The hydrologic and economic feasibility of micro hydropower upfitting and integration of existing low-head dams in the United States," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 261-271.
    8. Kosnik, Lea, 2010. "The potential for small scale hydropower development in the US," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(10), pages 5512-5519, October.
    9. Abbasi, Tasneem & Abbasi, S.A., 2011. "Small hydro and the environmental implications of its extensive utilization," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 2134-2143, May.
    10. Höffken, Johanna I., 2014. "A closer look at small hydropower projects in India: Social acceptability of two storage-based projects in Karnataka," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 155-166.
    11. Song, Cuihong & Gardner, Kevin H. & Klein, Sharon J.W. & Souza, Simone Pereira & Mo, Weiwei, 2018. "Cradle-to-grave greenhouse gas emissions from dams in the United States of America," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 945-956.
    12. Fida Ali & Chatchawin Srisuwan & Kuaanan Techato & Adul Bennui & Tanita Suepa & Damrongrit Niammuad, 2020. "Theoretical Hydrokinetic Power Potential Assessment of the U-Tapao River Basin Using GIS," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 13(7), pages 1-1, April.

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