$75 billion to be invested in global hydropower by 2020

A new report published this week  predicts that the global hydropower market will continue to expand over the next seven years through to 2020. By this time global hydropower capacity is predicted to exceed 1,400 Gigawatts.

The report was produced and published by the analytical firm Globaldata. Global cumulative hydropower stood at 1,065 GW in 2012. By 2020 this is expected to increase up to 1,407 GW. Of this 1,407 GW 1,052 GW will be produced by large scale hydropower installations, 215 GW will be supplied by pumped storage power and 140 GW will be generated from small scale hydropower developments (such as those being developed by ourselves at Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable Energy)). Globaldata’s prediction of 1,407 GW of installed capacity by 2020 represents an annual compound growth rate of 3.5% for the hydropower industry.

The level of growth predicted by Globaldata represents an investment into hydropower of $75 billion over the next seven years. The majority of this growth is expected to occur in the Asian-Pacific region – much of which will occur in China. China has the fastest growing energy demand in the world – it is this fact combined with the Chinese Government’s desire to move away from it’s dependency on fossil fuels and curb the increasingly high levels of pollution which are occurring in the country which will see the development of many large scale hydropower schemes within the country.

China is expected, by Globaldata, to have developed 147.3 GW of hydropower capacity by 2020. Other countries in the region are also expected to pursue further hydropower developments as well. For instance; India will develop an additional 23.2 GW of hydropower capacity between 2012 and 2020, Indonesia will develop a further 9.4 GW of capacity  in the same period.

It is an accepted fact that the vast majority of new hydropower developments will be pursued in the Asian-Pacific region. The reason for this is that other regions such as North America and Europe represent far more mature markets for the technology. A country only  has a finite amount of hydropower capacity to develop. A large scale hydropower development represents a huge amount of environmental and ecological upheaval. When potential development sites which fall within national parks or areas of specific scientific interest are discounted it can often be the case that a country is already approaching the limits of its hydropower capacity. This is the case in the UK where the vast majority of available sites suitable for large scale hydropower generation were developed in the immediate period following the end of the second world war (such as in the Scottish Highlands). The level of installed hydropower capacity from such sites has remained stable for decades.

However that is not to say that there is no room for growth for hydropowr in the West. The Globaldata report outlines an expectation for there to be 271 GW of installed hydropower capacity in North America by 2020 and for 197 GW of capacity in Europe by the same year. For the regions which represent the mature end of the hydropower market this represents more than encouraging growth.

Commenting on the publication of the report, Globaldata analyst Swati Singh commented:

“Although fossil fuels dominate electricity generation across the world, more than 60 countries use hydropower to meet more than half of their electricity needs. The technology is the most popular non-polluting source of electricity generation for various reasons, including its ability to respond to changing electricity demand, water management and flood control.”

In other news the UK renewable energy company Ecotricity announced this week that is now publishing real time data demonstrating the amount of electricity being generated and fed into the national grid by the 55 wind turbines which it has installed across the country.

Data is uploaded to this website every 30 seconds directly from the meters which connect each of the 55 turbines to the national grid. Figures are also supplied for total monthly output, CO2 emission displacement, and how many of the 55 turbines are currently supplying electricity to the national grid. At the time of writing this blog currently 50 of the 55 are feeding power into the grid

Previously the company was supplying live data on UK-wide grid generation but it was felt that the new data would help to dispel many of the myths which surround wind turbines. Ecotricty’s founder Dale Vince remarked; “This is all about being a modern, open energy company in the digital age. Providing real-time generation figures is important but equally you also need to look at the output over time.”

By allowing people to see for themselves exactly how much wind energy is being produced at any one time, the public will be able to see for themselves the significant contribution which wind power is already making to their energy needs.


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