By Shelley Goldberg, Commodity Strategist at Wall Street Daily
When most people think of renewable energy, wind and solar power typically come to mind.
But the world’s largest and oldest renewable energy source is actually hydropower.
Fueling the Hydro Train
Hydropower captures energy that would otherwise be wasted by using the power of moving waters – rivers, streams, and ocean tides – to generate electricity.
The hydropower industry is an important and growing part of the American energy economy and, in many cases, a more economic and efficient investment than other forms of renewable energies.
As I mentioned above, it’s already a proven and secure source of renewable energy in the United States.
Recently, major stakeholders in the renewable energy industry have been looking closely at hydropower and discovering more and more potential.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has been exploring untapped hydropower generation across the United States.
Overall, the DOE found that hydropower could greatly help diversify the country’s energy portfolio – meaning we would be less vulnerable to shortages of traditional fuels caused by political, economic, or natural factors.
An assessment published this past April by the DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory estimates that by increasing infrastructure development, U.S. hydropower capacity could almost double – to nearly 130 gigawatts (GW).
That’s enough to power upwards of 130 million average American homes!
And as I alluded to before, the hydropower industry is now set to get a huge influx of funding.
Following the assessment, the DOE announced its intention to provide $4 billion in loan guarantees for five key areas of renewable energy technology as part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.
These loan guarantees are nothing new, but this time the administration is focused specifically on hydropower and the “enhancement of existing facilities, including micro-hydro or hydro updates to existing non-powered dams.”
Following the Current
Hydropower is ready to boom, but how can you ride this wave? By investing in the companies that will benefit from the government’s new focus.
Some of the larger public names producing hydropower include energy companies and utilities such as Duke Energy (DUK), Southern Company (SO), and American Electric Power (AEP).
And hydropower is not only a U.S. play, but an international phenomenon. A few of the largest names outside the United States include Brazil’s Electrobras (EBR), India’s NTPC Limited (NTPC.NS), and China’sYangtze Power Co. Ltd. (SHA: 600900).
On top of the producers, there are tremendous opportunities for increasing renewable energy generation without constructing new, large dams. Much of hydropower’s future growth will focus on the modernization of existing facilities and infrastructure already built or in use.
As such, the hydropower industry is supported by a supply chain of more than 2,500 companies. Many of these service providers are privately held, but there are some larger companies that have subsidiaries focused on hydropower:
Toshiba (TOSBF), for instance, is the owner of Hydro Power Services, LLC, which provides technical direction and project management services.
Andritz Group (ADRZY) is a global supplier of plants, equipment, and services for hydropower stations.
And you can also check out Adept Technology Inc. (ADEP), which offers software systems with security, shoreline management, and permitting software.
Courtesy Wall Street Daily (EconMatters article archive Here)
The views and opinions expressed herein are the author's own, and do not necessarily reflect those of EconMatters.
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