According to the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL), the United States would be placed fourth in countries with untapped hydropower resources. As part of a project funded by the Department of Energy, the INEEL's scientists have compiled a map these resources on US territory. The aim is to promote, instead of large dams often harmful to the environment, the installation of small generators of less than one megawatt on smaller waterways. Excluding the rivers flowing through protected natural areas near 170 000 megawatts could thus be produced, twice more than at present. In fact, the main obstacle to the development of hydroelectric power is its cost. It takes fifty years to recoup an investment in this area, a disadvantage that only
Tax incentives can compensate. In 1980 years, the implementation of a policy of this type had helped boost the installation of micro but the end of the system in the early 1990 years stopped this growth. Today 7% of the energy needs of the United States are provided by hydropower, which 85% from dams.
BG 18 / 10 / 04 (Scientist Envisions small-scale hydropower)