Environmental Effects of Hydropower & Marine/Hydrokinetic Energy Projects

Hydro power collage

Hydroelectric power is one of the nation’s most important renewable energy resources, because it represents about 7% of the country’s total electrical generation and 75% of the electricity generated from renewable sources. Hydropower has significant advantages over other energy sources: it is a reliable, domestic, renewable resource with large undeveloped potential, it produces few solid wastes, and it emits essentially none of the atmospheric emissions that are of growing concern, such as nitrogen and sulfur oxides and greenhouse gases. Hydropower projects can provide substantial non-power benefits as well, including water supply, flood control, navigation, and recreation.

Hydropower poses unique challenges in energy development, because it combines great benefits with difficult environmental challenges. The environmental issues that most frequently confront the hydropower industry are blockage of upstream fish passage, fish injury and mortality from passage through turbines, and changes in the quality and quantity of water released below dams and diversions. ESD staff have been instrumental in identifying and mitigating these environmental impacts for more than 25 years.

Fish Dangers
(click on image to enlarge)

Related Resources

EISA Report on Environmental Effects of Marine & Hydrokinetic Energy Projects

Foreign Involvement

Related Links

For more information, contact:
Mark Bevelheimer (bevelhimerms@ornl.gov, 865-576-0266)