This post takes a look at hydro power potential in the US, which is significant. For example, Oak Ridge National Laboratory has estimated that there is more than 12GW of untapped capacity at existing dams across the US; this is in part due to the fact that only 3% of existing dams generate electricity. Furthermore a 2006 DOE report noted that in every region realistic increases in generation capacity ranged from a minimum of 50% to well over 100%, which represents a lot of potential additional power. Large dams have serious environmental issues, disrupting Salmon runs for example, but a lot more power can be generated from existing dams and from less disruptive run of the river hydro.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced $104.7 million in funding for seven new research and testing facilities located in DOE national laboratories. The announced projects will support the development and improvement of clean energy and efficiency technologies that are in the US strategic national interest. The new funding is supporting research in techniques to reduce the cost to manufacture carbon fiber on a large scale; finding ways to improve efficiency and lower costs for car batteries; and for developing net-zero energy building technologies.
Geothermal heat pumps (GHPs), also known as ground-source heat pumps, are similar to ordinary heat pumps, but use the thermally stable mass of the earth below the ground instead of outside air to provide heating, air conditioning and, in most cases hot water as well. Because these systems use the earth’s natural reservoir of stable temperatures, they are among the most efficient and comfortable heating and cooling technologies around. GHPs can save substantial amounts of energy and significantly reduce peak demand in buildings that incorporate them.
The White House announced that the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science will invest $777 million in Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs) over the next five years. In a national effort to accelerate scientific advances in critical areas of the new energy economy the United States Department of Energy (DOE) will establish 46 new multi-million dollar Energy Frontier Research Centers (or EFRCs) across the nation.