Global hydropower capacity is expected to increase by 17 percent between 2021 and 2030 – led by China, India, Turkey and Ethiopia – according to IEA report.
The projected growth for the 2020s is nearly 25 percent slower than hydropower’s expansion in the previous decade, the Hydropower Special Market Report from IEA said.
Reversing the slowdown will require a range of strong policy actions from governments to address the major challenges that are hampering faster deployment of hydropower, the report said. These measures include providing long-term visibility on revenues to ensure hydropower projects are economically viable and sufficiently attractive to investors, while still ensuring robust sustainability standards.
In 2020, hydropower supplied one sixth of global electricity generation, making it the single largest source of low-carbon power – and more than all other renewables combined. Its output has increased 70 percent over the past two decades, but its share of global electricity supply has held steady because of the increases in wind, solar PV, natural gas and coal.
Hydropower meets the majority of electricity demand across 28 different emerging and developing economies, which have a total population of 800 million.
“Hydropower is the forgotten giant of clean electricity, and it needs to be put squarely back on the energy and climate agenda if countries are serious about meeting their net zero goals,” said Fatih Birol, the IEA Executive Director.
China is set to remain the single largest hydropower market through 2030, accounting for 40 percent of global expansion, followed by India. China’s share of global hydropower additions has been declining due to the decreasing availability of economically attractive sites and growing concerns over social and environmental impacts.
Between now and 2030, USD 127 billion – or almost one-quarter of global hydropower investment – is set to be spent on modernising ageing plants, mostly in advanced economies.
This is notably the case in North America, where the average age of a hydropower plant is nearly 50 years, and in Europe, where it’s 45 years. The projected investment falls well short of the USD 300 billion that the report estimates is necessary to modernise all ageing hydropower plants worldwide.