seattle-city-light-hydro-831.jpg.crop_display Photos by Martin Rosenberg

Wind Tops Hydro

Wind passes aging hydroelectricity sector as energy source.

Hydroelectric generation, which flourished nearly a century ago during the Depression, is being lapped by surging wind turbine placements, federal figures show.

Wind topped hydro generation late last year, benefitting from the addition of 8,727 megawatts of wind capacity last year, according to a report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.


However, given the hydro fleet’s higher average capacity factors and the above-normal precipitation on the West Coast so far this year, hydro generation will likely once again exceed wind generation in 2017," the EIA said.

In a separate report, EIA said that America's hydroelctricity fleet is aged, with an average life of 67 years.

"Hydropower plants account for 99 percent of all currently operating capacity built before 1930. Until 2014, hydroelectricity exceeded the electricity produced by all other renewable sources combined," EIA said.

Some energy sector leaders would like to enhance hydroelectric generation, but environmental groups and some Indian groups oppose projects they believe will harm native fish populations.

All but two states - Delaware and Mississippi - have some utlity-scale hydroelectric generation.



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