The United States has a total hydropower installed capacity of almost 102,000 MW. This comprises about 80 GW of conventional hydropower and about 22 GW of pumped storage hydropower.
While most recent hydropower growth comes from small projects, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates there is nearly 50 GW of untapped hydropower potential; including 30 GW of pumped storage and 5 GW of development at nonpowered dams.
The existing hydropower fleet continues to play a critical role, providing carbon-free flexibility and reliability as fossil fuels are replaced with intermittent renewables. Most States are setting carbon-free goals over the next 30 years and relying on hydropower to help achieve these.
In August 2022, the US House passed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), a landmark measure that recognises that waterpower plays a critical role in accelerating the transition to a more reliable, clean energy grid. It includes $369 billion package of tax credits for the nation's energy sector, including provisions for capacity upgrades at existing hydropower facilities, retrofits of non-powered dams with hydropower generation and new marine energy and hydrokinetic generation. It also incentivises development of new pumped storage facilities.
In October 2020, a landmark collaboration agreement was concluded between environmental groups and the U.S. hydropower sector, which recognises the need to tackle climate change with renewable energy while also preserving healthy rivers.
The joint statement was issued by twelve organisations including the US National Hydropower Association, the Hydropower Foundation, American Rivers and WWF, among other groups.
The agreement outlines how the benefits of hydropower, including its energy storage potential, should be harnessed while protecting the ecology and environment of American water systems. This will involve accelerating the development of hydropower technologies and the rehabilitation, retrofitting and removal of older dams, among other actions. Learn more
This country profile is featured in the 2022 Hydropower Status Report. Download the report: hydropower.org/statusreport