Hydropower to hit 2,000GW by 2050

The global hydroelectric power market, which already represents 76% of all renewable energy, could double to 2,000GW by 2050, according to the World Energy Council.

The Council released its latest report ‘Charting The Upsurge In Hydropower Development’ on Tuesday at the World Hydropower Congress in Beijing.

It claims that since 2005 hydropower has seen a resurgence due to a ‘better understanding of what the technology can provide’, including energy storage and flood or drought mitigation.

There has also reportedly been a change in attitude from the World Bank, private investors and NGOs such as the World Wildlife Fund and the National Trust, who are now supporting hydropower schemes.

In fact, the 2,000 GW target can be reachd ahead of 2050 if developing countries embrace hydropower, says the report. By comparison, global wind capacity totalled 318 GW at the end of 2013.

World Energy Council secretary general Christoph Frei said: “The future lies in the opening up of new markets through cross-border trade and power pools and devising appropriate market conditions, such as renewable incentives, clearer price signals for additional services and flexible generation.

“Whilst some governments and multilateral banks are supporting and encouraging neighbouring nations to co-operate and share the same water resources, more innovative solutions are needed.”

A University of Copenhagen study at the end of 2014 claimed we are seeing an ‘unprecedented boom in hydropower dam construction’ with 3,700 major dams expected to be built in the next twenty years. 

Energy-water nexus

The chair of the World Energy Council Marie-José Nadeau also pointed out that the uptake of hydropower could help relieve some of the growing strain on the worlds water supply.

She said: “Hydropower consumes very little water compared with other energy resources. As the world moves to cleaner energy resources and water becomes an increasingly valuable commodity in many regions, it will influence the choice of energy options.

“Governments must take a leading role in addressing the vicious cycle of rising water and energy demands – the ‘energy-water nexus

Energy supply presently accounts for nearly 15% of global freshwater withdrawals annually. A recent IRENA report founds the UK could halve the amount of water used in energy generation by 2030, if it realises an ambitious renewable energy plan.

Brad Allen

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