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Costs of mitigating the environmental impacts of hydropower projects in the United States...

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Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
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Developers are required to mitigate the environmental impacts of hydropower projects in the United States (U.S.) but there is very little accessible information on the associated costs. This study compiles and analyses a dataset of environmental impacts mitigation costs for 182 hydropower projects based on documents obtained from the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The analysis shows that environmental costs vary wildly across hydropower project classes and mitigation measures, even when normalized by plant capacity. Capital costs per kilowatt are generally higher for relicensed conventional hydropower plants, and lower for new and relicensed pumped storage hydropower plants, relative to other project classes. Smaller plants tend to spend a higher share of total project costs on mitigating environmental impacts than larger plants, and measures related to Aquatic Species, Project Operations, and Recreation have the highest capital cost per kilowatt. These findings mean that environmental costs could become a key decision variable for new hydropower developments in the U.S. due to the small scale of most of the remaining potential and the increasing stringency of environmental requirements. Therefore, technologies to reduce the environmental impacts and costs of hydropower would be important for future project developments.