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Idaho National Laboratory

Resource Assessment


In June 1989, DOE held public hearings to support the expanding demand for energy in the United States. The purpose was to begin determining the undeveloped potential hydropower resources. As a result of the meetings, and through partial analysis of the database of undeveloped resources by industry groups, DOE discovered that the data on potential hydropower included redundancies and errors which reduced confidence in the published estimates of the developable hydropower potential. As a result, DOE established an interagency hydropower resource assessment team to determine the resource. The team completed a preliminary assessment of potential hydropower resources in February 1990. DOE has continued these resource assessment activities to develop a basis for correcting these deficiencies. The goal is to assemble a resource database of all potential hydropower sites in the United States for use as a planning tool to determine the viable national hydropower potential.

Virtual Hydropower Prospector

The Virtual Hydropower Prospector (VHP) is a geographic information system (GIS) tool is designed to assist you in locating and assessing water energy resources in the United States.

Hydropower Evaluation Software

To assess the hydropower potential in any area of the United States from a national perspective, a uniform set of criteria was developed and a probability factor computer model, called Hydropower Evaluation Software (HES), was designed to standardize the assessment. HES offers the PC user the ability to factor in environmental attributes of a hydropower site to calculate a relative development suitability factor for a project.

Resource Assessment Reports

  1. Assessment of Opportunities for New United States Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Plants Using Existing Water Features as Auxiliary Reservoirs, March 2014 (3.1MB PDF)
  2. Assessment of Natural Stream Sites for Hydroelectric Dams in the Pacific Northwest Region, March 2012 (3.5MB PDF)
  3. Hydropower Resource Assessment of Brazilian Streams, September 2011 (1.1MB PDF)
  4. Hydropower Resource Assessment at Existing Reclamation Facilities, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, March 2011 ( 14MB PDF)
  5. Feasibility Assessment of the Water Energy Resources of the United States for New Low Power and Small Hydro Classes of Hydroelectric Plants, January 2006
  6. Estimation of Average Annual Streamflows and Power Potentials for Alaska and Hawaii, May 2004 (1.1MB PDF)
  7. Water Energy Resources of the United States with Emphasis on Low Head/Low Power Resources, April 2004
  8. Estimation of Economic Parameters of U.S. Hydropower Resources, July 2003 (3.7MB PDF)
  9. U.S. Hydropower Resource Assessment Final Report, December 1998 (3.7MB PDF)
  10. The state resource assessment reports are available for 49 states. The completed work has identified 5,677 sites in the United States with undeveloped capacity of about 30,000 MW.

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