Hydropower Facts

Renewable hydropower serves as a low-cost, versatile, and reliable source of green energy, specifically electrical power. It also promotes proper water management. Moreover, hydropower is an asset for constructing clean and secure electricity systems to achieve net-zero goals globally. Here are other hydropower facts that you should know about:

Hydropower Types

Hydropower types include offshore, pumped storage, storage, and run-of-river hydropower. Only a few dams worldwide are constructed for hydropower because most of them are made for water supply, flood control, irrigation, etc.

Water Management

A lot of hydropower dams are utilized for different purposes aside from electricity generation. Dams serve as an infrastructure to provide clean water to residential homes, agriculture, industry, transportation, and recreation services. Moreover, hydropower dams can store and regulate water to minimize the effects of climate change that may cause drought and floods.

Largest Source of Renewable Energy

About 60% of renewable electricity worldwide is produced by hydropower. It generates about 16% of the sum of electricity production from all types of sources. According to the IEA (International Energy Agency), hydroelectric power accounts for about ⅓ of the earth’s capacity for electrical supply. Not a single country came close to reaching 100% renewables apart from hydropower.

In 2020, hydroelectric power installed capacity was 1,330 GW (gigawatts), and generation reached 4,370 TWh (terawatt hours). India, Canada, the USA, Brazil, and China generate large amounts of electrical power through installed capacity. From 2015 to 2019, the mean year-on-year global growth in hydroelectric installed capacity reached 2.1%.

A Clean Source of Electrical Power

Hydropower is a clean source of electrical power with low gas emissions, unlike other forms of energy. According to research, using hydroelectric power rather than fossil fuels prevented the production of billions of CO2 (carbon dioxide) all these years, exceeding emissions prevented by nuclear energy. That is almost equal to the sum of yearly carbon footprint in the US for about 20 years.

According to the Hydropower Special Market Report by the IEA, over a power plant’s life cycle, hydropower produces the lowest greenhouse emission for every unit of power produced. Not only that, but it also provides many environmental benefits. Suppose hydroelectric power is to be replaced by coal.

In that case, the IHA (International Hydropower Association) estimates more than 3 billion tonnes of gas emissions produced yearly, which will increase global greenhouse emissions from industry and fossil fuels by 10%. Moreover, over 150 million tonnes of particulates that pollute the air will be emitted yearly.

Hydropower Sustainability

All hydroelectric power projects can create good results, benefiting the people and the environment. These projects must have strategic river basin planning that is responsibly built and operated.

A tool for hydropower sustainability exists to guarantee that projects are built and run in line with standard practice. These assessment tools and guidelines contain 26 governance, social, and environmental performance criteria.

Moreover, these tools are managed by stakeholders from financial institutions, governments, industries, and civil society. Furthermore, they follow safeguards created by many organizations, including the World Bank.