Oak Ridge National Laboratory


News Release

Media Contact: Fred Strohl (strohlhf@ornl.gov)
Communications and External Relations


Upgrading dams suggested as strong renewable energy option

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Dec. 22, 2010 — Upgrading existing dams with new equipment could enable the South to reduce the amount of electricity produced in the region by fossil fuels, according to Marilyn Brown, a member of the Tennessee Valley Authority Board of Directors and a public policy professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Brown heads a Georgia Tech study looking at renewable energy usage in the South, but notes her comments do not necessarily reflect current TVA policy.

"What I'm now focusing on are the numerous lakes and reservoirs that have been dammed and that are available for electricity production with the installation of turbines and connections to the grid," Brown said during a presentation at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory. "The ecological footprint is already there, the dam is already in place, the lake and reservoir are there. It has been contained and all we need to do is a very moderate investment in new equipment."

Brown said the South has abundant renewable energy resources.

"Biopower is a viable option in most of the Southern states," Brown said, "Wind is more restricted. There's not much of it in Florida, but there is a lot of it in other Southern states."

Brown suggested Southern states need to focus more directly on renewable energy policies that have been followed in other parts of the United States.

ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy's Office of Science.