Welcome back to Runoff, the blog that roots for rain and winds up with Seasonal Affective Disorder when it’s sunny out. Each month, we capture the region’s most important hydropower news and give you our take on it, along with some more lighthearted and interesting segments along the way.
We’re tackling some really important information provided by the US DOE (US Dept of Energy) and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) this month. Spoiler alert– it has a lot to do with the importance of #hydropower.
More specifically, we’re breaking down DOE’s new report, entitled “On the Path to 100% Clean Energy” This #BidenAdministration report calls out the importance of hydropower and nuclear in maintaining a clean, reliable energy grid. Here are the highlights:
This report identifies ten key all-of-society actions needed to move toward 100% clean electricity and realize the benefits of a fully decarbonized power system.
In Key Action #1
Maintain the existing clean generation and storage fleet and increase flexibility where appropriate:
“Clean generation—nuclear, hydropower, wind, solar, and more—is currently responsible for approximately 40% of the nation’s electricity supply and forms the foundation on which clean energy growth can build. Although wind and solar generation is growing rapidly, nuclear and hydropower provide almost two-thirds of clean electricity generation and are the primary source of the clean electricity serving base load. Nuclear plants, in particular, regularly operate for more than 90% of the year and can provide electricity in extreme situations when other resources may not be available.” (emphasis added)
In Key Action #3
Increase operations for clean generation, storage, and carbon management technologies:
“In particular, deployment of technologies that provide high levels of firm capacity—that is, capacity that can be relied upon to generate during times of system need—such as from advanced nuclear, fossil and biomass with CCS, geothermal, hydropower, and/or long-duration storage options, can help ensure that resource adequacy and reliability are maintained at high levels of clean electricity.” (emphasis added)
Similarly, just yesterday (we do our best to stay on top of these things), Jim Robb, CEO of North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) testified before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee regarding the importance of #hydropower to achieving a clean, reliable electric grid. Se Mr. Robb’s comments below:
“Hydropower is an outstanding resource. It’s clean, it’s dispatchable, and it plays a huge role in the Western Interconnection…I think anything that can expand and secure that resource for the future is highly valuable.”
These words mean a great deal coming from the head of the organization responsible for monitoring and maintaining electric grid reliability in the USA.
- Grid reliability is becoming an ever-growing challenge, in light of climate change and the retirement of fossil-fueled power plants. The DOE and NERC statements recognize the criticality of maintaining resources like #hydropower and #nuclearenergy that are both CO2-free and “dispatchable” (i.e., available on-demand to fill in the gaps for wind and solar power.)
- We’re doing our very best to raise the importance of #hydropower with policymakers. The report we commissioned last year by Energy GPS LLC demonstrated that losing the lower Snake River dams would set back the region’s decarbonization mandates by 3 to 5 years and add millions of metric tons of CO2 to the atmosphere. It also showed that it takes roughly 5 megawatts of solar, winds, and batteries to replace 1 megawatt of hydropower capacity.
- We appreciate the efforts of Senator Maria Cantwell and Senator Steve Daines for their work to make it easier to relicense existing hydropower plants.
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