Hydropower to need major policy support to achieve net-zero targets, says report

Hydropower, the “forgotten giant” of low-carbon electricity, will need major policy support to help accelerate the expansion of solar and wind power and put the world on track for net-zero goals, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Hydropower currently provides one-sixth of global electricity generation and is the single largest source of low-carbon power—and more than all other renewables combined, the IEA estimates. In 2020, hydropower was the third largest electricity generation source after coal and natural gas, as per IEA’s inaugural Hydropower Special Market Report.

Global hydropower capacity has jumped by 70 percent over the past 20 years, but its share of electricity generation has remained stable because of increased generation from wind, solar, natural gas, and coal-fired capacity, according to the IEA.

Fig 1: Low-carbon electricity generation by technology and shares in global electricity supply, 2020

This decade, hydropower capacity worldwide is forecast to rise by 17 percent, driven by China, India, Turkey, and Ethiopia. However, the projected growth for this decade is nearly 25 percent slower than the expansion in the previous decade. Governments need to enact strong policy actions to reverse the slowdown in hydropower growth, the agency said.

Fig 2: Net hydropower capacity additions by technology segment globally (left) and by region (right), 2021-2030

Hydropower’s advantages can make it a natural enabler of secure transitions in many countries as they shift to higher and higher shares of solar and wind – provided that hydropower projects are developed in a sustainable and climate-resilient way.

Yet, recent major projects, including the world’s second-largest hydropower dam in China, have met resistance from environmentalists, while drought conditions could severely affect its output. Case in point: a more severe than usual drought in California this year has depleted reservoirs and lakes, including the ones feeding some of the largest hydropower facilities, putting the state again at risk of power outages during heatwaves this summer.


Source: All references are brought in the website article.

Photo:@ we mention sources of photos here


‘Copyright ©️ Solar Edition, All rights reserved. Copyright of referenced material goes to the creator of the referenced content


IEA, Hydrogen Special Market Report, 2021