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Hydro Set to Ease Economic Woes

by Staff
International Water Power & Dam Construction, February 5, 2010

A recent study in the US is urging the government to support hydro power to help it steer the country back to economic recovery through the creation of thousands of new jobs

The hydro power industry led the US out of the Great Depression of the 1930s and, according to the National Hydropower Association (NHA), it has the capabilities to play a key role in economic growth and expansion over 80 years later. Hydro industry development will not only help steer the country towards energy security, but it will also create thousands of new jobs.

The above findings of a recently commissioned NHA study outline how the industry can expand its contribution to energy, environmental and economic goals over the next 15 years. Energy Secretary Stephen Chu believes that such development of the US' lowest cost energy option is an 'incredible opportunity'. An opportunity, the NHA believes, for the environment, the US economy and its people.

Growth potential

Early in 2009 NHA commissioned Navigant Consulting to conduct a study examining the hydro power industry's job creation and capacity growth potential. Information gathered from industry members and government officials demonstrated the industry's true potential: the creation of 700,000 new jobs and the addition of 60GW of hydro power by 2025. The study examined the industry's potential under two different scenarios. Both scenarios assume that hydro power continues to provide about 7% of total US electricity, and that electricity demand grows by 2% annually. The scenarios are: Business as usual - where renewables generate 10% of total US generation;

Accelerated case - where national policies mandate 25% renewable generation. Industry supporters welcomed the report but promoted more action in its wake. Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell urged policy makers to support the development of hydro in the US. "It's time to invest in renewable energy resources that generate electricity in this country and that provide jobs for Americans," he said. "Hydro power presents elected officials across the country with an opportunity to bring thousands of long term, family wage jobs to our states."

Voith Hydro CEO Mark Garner agrees. "This study confirms what our experience at Voith Hydro has already shown - investments in hydro lead directly to good paying, long lasting American jobs."

The US hydro industry currently employs over 300,000 people but the creation of additional jobs means that over one million could be working in the industry by 2025. According to James Kautar, international representative for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, hydro power is already an important source of good paying, high quality jobs for workers across the country. 'A national investment in hydro power will help grow American jobs for decades to come,' he added.

Key areas which will experience new job creation include:

In order for the above expansion to take place, the NHA says that the government must act now to support renewable power. It should implement the following policies: 'Hydro power must play a critical role in our national energy, environmental and economic policy, says NHA Executive Director Linda Church Ciocci. 'The NHA stands ready to work with all policymakers who pursue the development of the US' critical hydro power resources.'

Hydro Set to Ease Economic Woes
International Water Power & Dam Construction, February 5, 2010

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