U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Water Power Program
The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Water Power Program is committed to developing and deploying a portfolio of innovative technologies for clean, domestic power generation from resources such as hydropower, waves, and tides. The Water Power Program's vision is to support 15% of our nation's electricity needs from water power by 2030.
What We Do
Leading the world in clean energy is critical to strengthening the American economy, and the Water Power Program is at the forefront of the nation's clean energy frontier. We are pioneering research and development efforts in both marine and hydrokinetic and hydropower technologies to improve performance, lower cost and ultimately support the United States' ability to sustainably meet its growing energy demand. Marine and hydrokinetic technologies capture energy from waves, ocean thermal gradients, and tidal, ocean and river currents.
Why It Matters
Our cutting-edge research portfolio is aimed to produce the next generation of water power technologies and jump-start private sector innovation critical to the country's long-term economic growth, energy security, and international competitiveness by accelerating the development of markets for those technologies.
Providing Clean, Domestic Energy to Grow our Economy
Hydroelectric power, the largest source of renewable electricity in the United States, already allows the nation to avoid 200 million metric tons of carbon emissions each year. Although only a small portion of existing dams produce electricity, new generation equipment can be added to existing infrastructure, upgrades can be made at operating facilities, and innovative sustainable hydropower plants can be built to access the United States' untapped hydropower capacity. The Water Power Program leads the critical research and development efforts necessary to develop the groundbreaking technologies that will drive sustainable growth and economic opportunity for our country.
Tapping New Sources of Clean, Renewable Energy
Marine and hydrokinetic technologies generate energy from highly predictable waves, currents, tides, and ocean thermal resources. With more than 50% of the American population living within 50 miles of the coast, a cost-effective marine and hydrokinetic industry could provide a substantial amount of electricity for the nation. The Water Power Program is investing heavily in this new and innovative industry, a nascent technology sector that is an example of American ingenuity at its best, producing cutting-edge technologies that can contribute to our nation's energy independence.
Supporting Renewable Energy with Stable Power Delivery
Some renewable energy resources, such as wind and solar, can present challenges when added in large amounts to the electric grid because their generation varies with fluctuations in their renewable "fuel" (i.e. wind speed and sunlight availability). Conventional and pumped-storage hydropower, on the other hand, are stable power sources that are also flexible enough to smooth out these fluctuations as they have large reservoirs of "fuel" (i.e. water) to fill any gaps in generation at a moment's notice. This stability and flexibility supports the deployment and integration of more variable renewable resources like wind and solar, increasing our energy independence and lowering our carbon footprint. The Water Power Program is pursuing opportunities to enable this "green backing green" scenario in more locations by quantifying and communicating hydropower's full benefits to stakeholders.
Enabling the Renewable Energy Market
Unlike more traditional sources of electricity such as oil and natural gas, water power technologies emit very little greenhouse gases and can provide our country with a source of clean, renewable power. The Water Power Program is sensitive to the environmental concerns surrounding water power, and we study our oceans, tides and rivers to ensure the technologies we develop are truly sustainable.
The Water Power Program funds research and development activities at the following national laboratories: