While it took 12 million cubic yards of concrete, about 8,000 workers, and 14 years to build her, it was really Mother Nature that did the heavy lifting in digging out the 1.27 million acre-foot lake when she ruptured prehistoric ice dams and flooded the entire Columbian basin with glacial Lake Missoula.
It would cost some $7 to 8 billion to build Grande Coulee Dam today. That’s about $1.10 per Watt of capacity – very attractive from a cost standpoint no matter how you slice it! However, Grand Coulee’s construction flooded more than a little bit of land…80 times the area of Rhode Island! So, dams like this, with the drastic environmental consequences they impose, are most unlikely to be built anymore. As such, hydropower is developing a new face — one that is much more in sync with the environment. Small, distributed run-of-the-river diversions selectively placed to deliver power with ultra-low ecological impacts are, we believe, the wave of the future. LPS’s modular hydropower systems can make such projects economical.