According to the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL), the United States is ranked fourth in the ranking of countries with untapped hydroelectric resources. As part of a project funded by the Department of Energy, INEEL scientists have mapped all these resources in the United States. The goal is to promote, instead of large dams which are often harmful to the environment, the installation of small generators of less than one megawatt on smaller rivers. If we exclude rivers flowing through protected natural areas, nearly 170 megawatts could be produced, twice as many as currently. In fact, the main obstacle to the development of hydroelectric power remains its cost. It takes around fifty years to make an investment in this field profitable, a disadvantage that only
tax incentives can compensate. In the 1980s, the implementation of a policy of this type had made it possible to boost the installation of micro-power stations, but the end of the system in the early 1990s stopped this growth. Today, 7% of the energy needs of the United States are met by hydroelectric power, 85% of which comes from dams.
BG 18 / 10 / 04 (Scientist Envisions small-scale hydropower)