Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Global hydropower capacity set for future growth

Though no longer the most popular, hydropower is still the most reliable renewable energy source, with proven technology and long history of use. Hydropower may not be the fastest developing clean energy sector worldwide but should still achieve significant growth in capacity in years to come. In fact, according to the recent Global Information Inc research hydropower market will achieve average annual growth of 3.6% per year by 2020. This translated in numbers means that the global hydropower capacity which now accounts for approximately 740 GW will increase to 1051 GW by 2020.

China, Canada and United States currently lead the world in terms of generated hydroelectricity. While hydropower will no doubt remain important energy source for these two countries it will also spread to new markets such as South and Central America, the Middle East, and Africa. There are plenty areas in the world with large untapped hydro resources, where hydroelectric plants could soon help satisfy ever-increasing hunger for more energy.

In Africa, Ethiopia should lead the way in the development of new hydroelectric projects, while Mexico and Venezuela should lead the way in South and Central America.

As already said before, hydroelectric power plants are very reliable in generating electricity because they do not suffer from intermittency issue like solar panels and wind turbines do. They do have high upfront costs, but their long lifespan, together with low maintenance, surely justifies somewhat bigger construction costs.

Every continent in the world is said to have significant untapped hydropower resources at its disposal. The exploitation of hydro resources does not have to be necessarily connected with large hydropower dams because small and micro hydro systems are also available and they can offer interesting clean energy option to many homeowners and small businesses.

Harnessing more hydropower instead of fossil fuels is good way to tackle climate change. By harnessing domestic hydro resources instead of relying on expensive foreign fuel import we can also improve our future energy security and pave the way for clean energy future.