According to a study released by the National Hydropower Association, the U.S. hydropower industry could install between 23,000 megawatts (MW) and 60,000 MW of additional capacity by 2025. The study also estimates that the installation of this amount of capacity could create between 230,000 and 700,000 new jobs.
Pointing to the findings of the report, Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell said his state could make use of the renewable resource.
“America has only just begun to understand the potential of hydropower,” Rendell said, as he visited Voith Hydro, a manufacturing facility that produces cost-effective hydroelectric generators and turbines used to make electricity in hydropower dams. “While newer forms of alternative-renewable energy have attracted much attention lately, hydropower has been around for decades and continues to grow as a reliable source of green energy.”
The report states that the United States has about 78,000 megawatts installed capacity of conventional hydropower. In Pennsylvania, hydropower generated more than 1.5 million megawatt-hours of electricity from June 2008 to July 2009.
Rendell said more than 5,000 Pennsylvanians are already at work in the hydropower industry in places such as the Holtwood dam on the Susquehanna River, which generates enough power to provide electricity for 53,611 homes. With help from new hydro turbines manufactured at Voith Hydro, Holtwood dam is being repowered to supply an additional 100,000 homes.
“Voith is an outstanding example of how developments and investments in green-energy technology can be good for our economy and our energy future,” Rendell said. “Even during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, Voith has continued to invest and create new jobs. With more than 550 employees—a 27 percent increase over the past two years—Voith Hydro is still growing and keeping up with the demand for hydropower. ”
Pennsylvania has invested $807,000 in Voith Hydro’s expansion through grants and tax credits and the training of its growing work force. The state has also enacted the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act of 2004, which will ensure at least 18.5 percent of all energy generated in the state comes from alternative sources by 2021; it launched the $650 million Alternative Energy Investment Fund passed in 2008, and most recently, it established one of the most ambitious energy conservation laws in the nation.
The hydropower study reinforces that point with estimates of future hydropower job creation nearly three times higher if renewable energy grows from 10 percent of national electricity supply to 25 percent.