Initiative Promotes U.S. Wind & Hydropower

The Wind & Hydropower Technologies Program will permit greater use of U.S. domestic resources for power production that will also help to stabilize the fluctuating costs of energy, according to David K. Garman, Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. In addition, Garman said that this program would improve the reliability of power supplies and take ecological concerns into account like never before.

Washington, D.C. – October 15, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] “To a large extent, the enormous potential of our national resources for wind and water generated power remains unused today,” said Garman. Voith Siemens Hydro Power Generation, a German-owned manufacturer of hydroelectric turbines, is supporting the U.S. initiative. “These measures are critically important to the American economy as well as its consumers and we’re very pleased to help by providing our technical know-how,” said Voith Executive Director Dr. Hubert Lienhard. Lienhard said that he hopes his company can continue a tradition begun by Hans Voith in 1903, when the first Voith Turbines were installed in the hydroelectric power plant at Niagara Falls, New York. Although those turbines have stood still since 1999, Lienhard said, “They have been routinely serviced and could begin producing power at any time.” A century ago at Niagara Falls, the economic stimulus given to the region by the power plant was significant. Supplied by a reliable, efficient supply of hydroelectric power, the area around Niagara Falls gained a commercial significance similar to today’s Silicon Valley. “As early as 1903 it was clear that an independent supply of energy was a motor for economic growth,” said Lienhard. In all, 275.6 billion kWh are delivered by hydroelectric power in the U.S., representing about nine percent of the total power used across the country. Hydroelectric represents about 75 percent of the energy produced from renewable sources. Currently R&D activities are focusing on water-powered turbines that reduce the risk of injury to fish. Technologies that can raise the level of oxygen in rivers are also desired, to compensate for harmful effects to wildlife brought on by standing water reservoirs. According to Lienhard, the development of advanced turbines to meet these requirements has been going on for many years at Voith Siemens Hydropower Generation, a company which has U.S. operations in York, Pennsylvania. “Some U.S. hydroelectric power plants are already using the newest Voith Technology to protect fish and other marine life from death in a turbine,” said Lienhard. Garman said that the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is making more than US$1 billion available to R&D efforts with $50 million for the development of wind and hydroelectric power. Lienhard considers these funds to be an important indication of the leading role that renewable energy will play in the U.S. According to Lienhard, the funding for R&D is badly needed, especially when one considers that U.S. energy consumption far exceeds its energy production — and estimates also predict that the level of consumption will increase. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) believes that by 2025, current overall consumption of 99.38 trillion British thermal units (Btu) will increase to 139 trillion Btu. And in the field of renewable energy, they also expect to see an increase of consumption from 5.96 to 8.78 trillion Btu. EIA projections are for U.S. energy production to increase only slightly, from 72.15 to 89.83 trillion Btu. The National Hydropower Association (NHA) maintains that when the disruptions to daily life caused by the dramatic blackouts across North America late this summer are considered, additional investments in energy supplies, such as hydroelectric power production, are required to satisfy an increasing demand for energy. “The importance of hydropower to our nation’s electricity grid was again confirmed during the massive blackout,” says NHA Executive Director Linda Church Ciocci. “As we learned from several officials, hydroelectric power projects in upstate New York and several other states continued to run, leading the way to restoring power to millions of Americans.”
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