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By the Numbers: Powering Non-Powered Dams

According to a 2012 comprehensive study performed by the U.S. Department of Energy1, if outfitted with hydropower technology, the Nation’s Top 100 non-powered dams could provide as much as 8 GW of clean, reliable, renewable energy. 

Responsibly developing our nation’s non-powered dams will bring a variety of energy, environmental, and power benefits to millions of American electricity consumers.  Developing these dams into clean energy facilities will also create thousands of American jobs and stimulate much needed economic activity.

By powering the Nation’s Top 100 non-powered dams, we could:

  • Generate 45,552,000 MWh of pollution-free electricity on an annual basis2
  • Annually provide enough clean power generation for as many as 3.9 million American homes3
  • Annually avoid 5.7 billion tons of carbon emissions4
  • Generate  new hydropower production equivalent to the output from 26 GW of solar power5  or 14.8 GW of wind power6  (or, the total wind power output of Texas, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Oklahoma combined7 )
  • Ensure increased peak power production
  • Develop highly predictable and reliable power production for grid operators (day and week ahead scheduling)

Non-powered dams


1  An Assessment of Energy Potential at Non-Powered Dams in the United States, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, April 2012
2  Assumes a 65% capacity factor for run-of-river hydropower plant operations
3  The average U.S. home consumes 11,500 kWh on an annual basis (EIA, 2011)
4  The U.S. carbon emissions average for non-renewable electricity generation is 1,267/lbs/MWh; U.S. Electricity Profile, EIA, April 2011
5  Assumes a 20% capacity factor for utility-scale solar power projects
6  Assumes a 35% capacity factor for utility-scale wind power projects
7  Installed U.S. wind capacity, 2012, American Wind Energy Association