Approved by the Energy, Environment, and Water Policy Committee on January 20, 2022
Approved by the Public Policy and Practice Committee on June 1, 2022
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 22, 2022
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) encourages the development and sustainable use of waterpower generation facilities consistent with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy 2016 Hydropower Vision. ASCE supports the following:
- Optimization: Optimize the value and power generation contribution of the existing hydropower fleet within the nation’s energy mix to benefit national and regional economies, maintain critical national infrastructure, and improve energy security.
- Growth: Explore the feasibility of credible long-term deployment scenarios for responsible growth of hydropower capacity and energy production.
- Sustainability: Ensure that hydropower’s contributions toward meeting the nation’s energy needs are consistent with the objectives of environmental stewardship and water use management.
Hydroelectric generation provides a renewable, clean, and inexpensive source of energy. Hydroelectric production can contribute to reduction of dependence on fossil fuel energy sources and can provide positive impacts on clean air issues, but at the same time can pose a threat to aquatic species and their free movement.
Unlocking the vast hydropower potential of our rivers, oceans, tides, and conduits requires funding research and development initiatives that make innovative ideas a reality. The 2016 Hydropower Vision analysis from the Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office indicates that U.S. hydropower could grow from 101 gigawatts in 2015 to 150 gigawatts in 2050. Significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are possible from this scenario. The 2016 Hydro Vision analysis identifies five action areas. These include technology advancement, enhanced revenue and market structures, sustainable development and operations, regulatory process optimization and enhanced collaboration, education, and outreach.
ASCE recognizes that continued economical, reliable, safe, and environmentally acceptable energy production and development are critical to economic growth and national security. Pump storage facilities offer the possibility of improving grid reliability and reducing greenhouse emission by utilizing and repurposing existing reservoirs with minimum environmental impact.
ASCE also recognizes the need to balance the expansion of hydropower generation with addressing environmental performance at existing dams and hydroelectric facilities. Research and development, demonstration, and deployment of new technologies has significant potential to enhance fish survival, address sediment transport concerns, increase water use efficiency and power output, and improve the quality of released water. In 2021, the National Hydropower Association along with other stakeholder groups, recommended the rehabilitation of hydropower dams to protect public safety, retrofit existing hydropower facilities to improve energy production and reduce greenhouse gases and remove obsolete dams to improve river health.
ASCE Policy Statement 442
First Approved in 1995