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Topic: Clean Energy


The overarching goal of the HydroSource effort is to provide the Federal database standard for existing and potential hydropower resource evaluation in the United States. By offering unmatched accuracy and the most comprehensive geospatial coverage currently available, the HydroSource effort aims to deliver consistent, reliable information that is critical to stimulating US hydropower market acceleration, deployment, technology-to-market activities, and environmental impact reduction.

Our primary objectives are (1) to provide the most up-to-date US hydropower information related to the existing hydropower fleet, undeveloped resources, future water availability, and environmental attributes to support assessment of untapped US hydropower potential and (2) to provide publicly accessible hydropower data and information through dedicated outreach and coordination efforts to promote US hydropower market acceleration and deployment. Through ongoing development efforts, we aim to increase the quality, functionality, and depth of detail of HydroSource and build on our analysis.


Understanding the existing hydropower fleet and potential hydropower resources for the United States is critical in supporting the DOE-EERE Water Power Technologies Office. The US hydropower fleet includes a mixture of federally and privately owned and operated facilities, some of which are under the jurisdiction of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Sponsored by the US Department of Energy (DOE) Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) initiated the National Hydropower Asset Assessment Project (NHAAP) in FY10 to integrate and improve upon the capabilities of the diverse energy-water geospatial data available to advance hydropower research and to address the most pressing US hydropower-related issues. Because the realm of research and scope of NHAAP expanded beyond asset assessment, in FY18 NHAAP became HydroSource and the website migration was completed.    

The Existing Hydropower Assets (EHA) data and analysis effort is a key foundational component of HydroSource, focusing on consistent assimilation of up-to-date US hydropower information from multiple existing energy, water, and infrastructure data sets. From this base of information, this project has provided more detailed information on the 2,241 active hydropower plants within the United States that provide over 79.99 GW of generating capacity (2017 Market Report). The ongoing and future work of this analysis effort is dedicated to improving the quality, functionality, and depth of detail of EHA. Ultimately, we intend to enable improved data coordination, management, and sharing among federal agencies and to harness EHA data to continuously provide up-to-date information and reliable technical and analytical support for efficient, sustainable, environmentally friendly US hydropower generation and water management.

Among other functions, HydroSource provides online internal and public facilities that receive WPTO-funded research products from projects that are ending and ensure that those products remain accessible to hydropower stakeholders, supported by staff expertise, and contextually integrated with the body of research products from other WPTO-funded projects. Once a WPTO-funded research project ends, the responsibility and cost for stewarding its data and tools for hydropower stakeholders are included in the scope and budget, respectively, for HydroSource (subject to WPTO approval and funding).

Today, many of the products available from HydroSource are most accessible via visualization—often either in the form of maps, such as the National Hydropower Map series, or through ESRI Explorers, an GIS-based interactive interface.

A wide variety of data is needed to support U.S. hydropower R&D activities.

Impact/Intended Impact

HydroSource is used by hydropower operators and developers, government (federal agencies, resource agencies, and decision-makers at federal, state and local jurisdictions), nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), academia, policy leaders, and the public. How this information is used varies by user group. Many use it for informing policy decisions, increasing transparency in hydropower projects and information, supporting science-based analysis, enabling robust research, considering new project development, developing new tools for data-driven environmental assessment, and informing strategic environmental permitting and mitigation.

HydroSource is the only source of aggregated national data of current and future hydropower, providing comprehensive and accurate information through GIS mapping/geospatial tools, studies and environmental documents, environmental mitigation data, research publications, economic analyses, and US hydropower fleet information. In response to frequent external user data requests and suggestions, the team has assembled multiple publicly accessible data layers such as the regional and state hydropower asset summaries and the National Hydropower Plant Data Set to support a wide variety of NHAAP data uses. In addition, the team has produced visualizations such as the National Hydropower Maps to support public outreach and communication needs. The HydroSource website also provides access to more than 25 publications that have been supported through HydroSource data resources. 



For more information, data, maps and resources visit