Prior to 2010, the responsibility for collecting and maintaining data pertaining to the U.S. hydropower fleet was distributed among multiple entities, preventing the development of an integrated fleet database capturing all constructed hydropower assets in the United States. The resulting complex data availability challenges, inconsistent data management practices, and lack of standardization collectively worked to constrain the ability of U.S. policymakers and stakeholders to make decisions regarding hydropower and its many related economic, technology, environmental, and water management issues.

Sponsored by the Department of Energy (DOE) Water Power Program, ORNL initiated the HydroSource project in 2010 to integrate and improve upon capabilities of these diverse energy-water geospatial data to advance hydropower research and address some of the most pressing U.S. hydropower related issues. The existing hydropower assets (EHA) data and analysis effort is a key foundational component of HydroSource that focuses on consistent assimilation of up-to-date U.S. hydropower information from multiple existing energy, water, and infrastructure data sets. Existing Hydropower Assets Baseline Data sources include the Energy Information Administration (EIA), Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), and Geological Survey (USGS). The integrated datasets have supported multiple U.S. hydropower R&D research initiatives related to market acceleration, environmental impact reduction, technology-to-market activities, and climate change impact assessment.

The future and ongoing work of this analysis effort is dedicated to improving upon the quality, functionality, and depth of detail of the EHA documented in HydroSource. Ultimately, we intend to enable improved data coordination, management, and sharing among federal agencies and to harness HydroSource’s EHA data to continuously provide up-to-date information and reliable technical and analytical support for efficient, sustainable, and environmentally friendly U.S. hydropower generation and water management.