NWHA releases results of Hydropower Potential Scoping Study

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Hydroelectric development potential in the Pacific Northwest from 2015 to 2035 is 3,200 MW, or 23 million MWh. Costs for this development range from an average of $3,518 per kW to $8,464 per kW. These are the results of a Regional Hydropower Potential Scoping Study recently completed by the Northwest Hydroelectric Association.

NWHA received a contract from the Northwest Power and Conservation Council in August 2014 to complete this study. The goal was to assess a broad number of studies indicating potential hydropower for the Pacific Northwest region, with an emphasis on the potential in upgrading existing facilities.

In total, 24 studies were reviewed, broken into seven categories:

- Projects at existing unpowered dams

- Conduit and kinetic projects

- Pumped storage/energy storage projects

- Tidal and wave energy projects

- General generation project assessments

- Models/databases/tools

- Legislation and rulemaking

The amount of power capacity the report addresses is equal to 76% of the current hydro development now in place and would provide 118% of the existing generation output, NWHA says. However, the “protected areas” designation of the Council’s Fish and Wildlife Program would preclude 88% of the resource unless a new project could provide “exceptional benefits to fish and wildlife,” according to NWHA.

NWHA presented a report to the Council’s Generation Resource Advisory Committee, which is reviewing potential power in the Pacific Northwest for the Seventh Power Plan. This plan will cover 2015 to 2035.

The council’s last major assessment of hydropower potential in the region was undertaken as part of its Fourth Power Plan, released in 1998.

For more information on the study, click here.

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