The U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of the Interior, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers signed a memorandum of understanding this week stating that they would work together to promote hydropower. The moving water on this Earth can be a huge source of energy — from the tides to the raging rivers there’s a lot to tap into. However, it can also be hugely destructive to the surrounding environment. Though it’s not our favorite source of green energy — solar and wind are much less invasive — we still welcome the detour from carbon based energy.
Though the positives of hydropower are huge — it’s abundant, it is measurably frequent, it’s carbon free — the negatives are just as immense. The creation of new hydropower structures is incredibly destructive to the environment. Water is re-routed and the surrounding ecosystem never returns to it’s previous state — even floating tidal turbines can be invasive. For this reason many environmentalists have been strongly opposed to traditional hydropower methods in favor of wind and solar power. Though we worry about this issue we’re somewhat comforted by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Secretary of Energy Steven Chu’s sensitivity to the subject.
Salazar noted upon the announcement of the memorandum, “as we build our clean energy economy here at home, we must explore and develop new technologies and new strategies for increasing hydropower generation in an environmentally sustainable manner.” Chu added, “Current U.S. hydropower generation avoids 225 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. Installing highly efficient turbines…putting turbines on existing non-powered dams, and building other low-impact projects will increase that number, while reducing our overall footprint and enhancing environmental performance.”
The memorandum didn’t state any specific goals, initiatives or plans. It was simply a pact signed by the three groups that stated they would assist each other in promoting hydropower sources across the United States. With a lot of the money from the recovery act going into renewable energy we’re wondering if this is going to pave the way for a hydropower initiative. But for now it’s simply a signed statement saying that the government would work to simplify the process of installing new hydropower projects therefore expediting the process of bringing projects to fruition.