In the United States, hydropower is currently produced at a cost of 0.85 cents per kilowatt-hour. That’s nearly half as expensive as fossil fuels, natural gas, and nuclear power. The cost savings of hydropower is an especially appealing aspect of the program, as it has the potential to be a major contributor to renewable energy policies and the development of sustainable communities. And, it’s also a great way to reduce pollution and other emissions.
But, before we can begin building a sustainable hydropower sector, we need to ensure that it is transparent and inclusive. Most hydropower projects involve large investments in civil construction and resettlement costs, both of which are notoriously distortive. Corruption starts with undue influence in site selection, including bribes from developers, and continues through the development of the project. In addition, it undermines public trust in hydropower and its sustainability.
As water vapor condenses and falls, it forms clouds and falls as precipitation. This precipitation collects in rivers and streams and eventually empties into lakes and oceans. It is these large water bodies that provide the water needed for hydropower. Unfortunately, hydropower dam construction has declined significantly in the developed world since the 1960s, when environmental and social concerns made dam construction uneconomical. As a result, hydropower has declined steadily, and it now accounts for 6.1% of global energy consumption.
Today, there are about 1,450 conventional hydropower plants and 40 pumped-storage hydropower plants across the U.S. A large majority of U.S. hydroelectricity is generated at large dams located along major rivers. The Grand Coulee hydro dam on the Columbia River is the largest hydropower plant in the United States, with a total generation capacity of 6,765 MW. So, while hydropower is a good alternative energy source, there are still a number of challenges.