IEA Offers Roadmap for Doubling Global Hydropower by 2050

The International Energy Agency (IEA) and Brazil’s Ministry of Mines and Energy have published a report laying out a roadmap for doubling global hydroelectricity production by 2050.

According to IEA, the achievement of such hydro production levels could prevent up to three billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel plants.

By 2050, a doubling in hydroelectric production would imply an increase in global capacity to almost 2,000 gigawatts (GW), and global electricity generation to over 7,000 terawatt hours (TWh).

According to the report, much of this growth would come from developing economies, although it also cites potential to replace existing hydroelectric plants in industrialized countries.

The report emphasizes that hydropower generation is the leading renewable technology worldwide with a capacity that is greater than all other renewables combined. It underscores that the flexibility of hydropower is also an asset, and that the ability to regulate water flow with hydropower will be useful as countries adapt to climate change.

However, the report acknowledges that hydropower requires up-front costs up to tens of billions of USD and calls for innovative ways of financing hydropower.

The IEA report urges governments to take the lead, along with stakeholders, in encouraging investment in hydropower. The report also calls on governments to: establish inventories of hydropower potential where existing plants might be upgraded or technology added; prepare plans for hydropower development; and develop policy to ensure hydropower projects are sustainable.

The report suggests that governments can work with industry groups on development and use of technologies, including those that support grid integration with sizeable amounts of variable renewable energy.

The IEA’s Technology Roadmap for Hydropower was launched at HYDRO 2012, in Bilbao, Spain, on 29 October 2012.

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