Decline in hydropower strains power grids amid drought

Oct 11, 2021

File image: Lake Powell
Credit AP

U.S. hydropower generation is forecast to drop 14% this year compared with 2020 as drought grips vast areas of the West. Experts say the reductions complicate grid operations since hydropower is a relatively flexible renewable energy source that can be easily turned up or down, such as in the evenings when the sun goes down and solar energy generation drops. The projected declines in hydropower are concentrated in the West, with California's production expected to fall by nearly half. Declines in hydropower production mean bumps for other energy sources, such as natural gas.