According to Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL), the United States would rank fourth in the ranking of countries with unexploited hydroelectric resources. As part of a project funded by the Department of Energy, INEEL scientists have drawn up a map of all these resources in the United States. The goal is to favor, instead of large dams often harmful to the environment, the installation of small generators of less than a megawatt on smaller rivers. If we exclude rivers crossing protected natural areas, close to 170 000 megawatts could be produced, twice as much as at present. In fact, the main obstacle to the development of hydropower remains its cost. It takes about fifty years to make an investment in this area profitable, a disadvantage that only
Tax incentives can compensate. In the 1980 years, the implementation of a policy of this type had allowed to boost the installation of microcentrales but the end of the system in the early 1990 stopped this boom. Today, 7% of the energy needs of the United States are provided by hydropower, of which 85% comes from dams.
BG 18 / 10 / 04 (Scientist Envisions small-scale hydropower)