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Global hydropower expansion at risk to slow down this decade

Oil&Gas Materials 20 July 2021 10:45 (UTC +04:00)
Global hydropower expansion at risk to slow down this decade

BAKU, Azerbaijan, July 20

By Leman Zeynalova - Trend:

Without major policy changes, global hydropower expansion is expected to slow down this decade, Trend reports with reference to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

IEA estimates that global hydropower capacity is set to increase by 17 percent, or 230 GW, between 2021 and 2030. “However, net capacity additions over this period are forecast to decrease by 23 percent compared with the previous decade. The contraction results from slowdowns in the development of projects in the People’s Republic of China, Latin America and Europe. However, increasing growth in Asia Pacific, Africa and the Middle East partly offsets these declines.”

The IEA is providing the world’s first detailed forecasts to 2030 for three types of hydropower: reservoir, run-of-river and pumped storage plants.

“Reservoir hydropower plants, including dams that enable the storage of water for many months, account for half of net hydropower additions through 2030 in our forecast. Cost-effective electricity access, cross-border export opportunities and multipurpose use of dams are the main drivers of the expansion of reservoir projects. Pumped storage hydropower plants store electricity by pumping water up from a lower reservoir to an upper reservoir and then releasing it through turbines when power is needed. They represent 30 percent of net hydropower additions through 2030 in our forecast.”

The increasing need in many markets for system flexibility and storage to facilitate the integration of larger shares of variable renewables drives record growth of pumped storage projects between 2021 and 2030, the agency believes.

“Run-of-river hydropower – which generates electricity through natural water flow with limited storage capability – remains the smallest growth segment because it includes many small-scale projects below 10 MW. China is set to remain the single largest hydropower market through 2030, accounting for 40% of global capacity growth in our forecast. However, China’s share of global hydropower additions has been declining since its peak of almost 60 percent between 2001 and 2010. China’s pace of hydropower development has slowed due to growing concerns over environmental impacts and the decreasing availability of economically attractive sites for large projects. In India, the world’s second-largest growth market, new long-term targets and financial incentives are expected to unlock a large pipeline of previously stalled projects.”

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Follow the author on Twitter: @Lyaman_Zeyn

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