The global hydroelectric power market, which already represents 76 per cent of all renewable global energy, has the potential to double to its capacity to 2000 GW by 2050 according to a World Energy Council report.

The study, called ‘Charting The Upsurge In Hydropower Development’, is being presented at the World Hydropower Congress in Beijing today.

And the World Energy Council says that the 2000 GW target “could be achieved earlier than 2050, if governments and multilateral banks give help to emerging economies where hydropower resources are under-utilised and investors work with the sector to bring forward well-prepared projects”.World Energy Council hydropower report

The report notes that there has been a positive change in approach to hydropower from the World Bank, private investors and NGOs such as the World Wildlife Fund and The Nature Conservancy, who are now supporting hydropower schemes.  However, the study says that there is much more that can be done to help developing countries.

Christoph Frei, secretary general of the World Energy Council, said: “The future lies in the opening up of new markets through cross-border trade and power pools and devising appropriate market conditions, such as renewable incentives, clearer price signals for additional services and flexible generation.  Whilst some governments and multilateral banks are supporting and encouraging neighbouring nations to co-operate and share the same water resources, more innovative solutions are needed.”

The report predicts that the regions where there is the highest potential for rapid growth are China, India, Brazil and Southeast Asia.  

Speaking at the World Hydropower Congress, Marie-José Nadeau, chair of the World Energy Council said: “Hydropower consumes very little water compared with other energy resources.  As the world moves to cleaner energy resources and water becomes an increasingly valuable commodity in many regions, it will influence the choice of energy options.  Governments must take a leading role in addressing the vicious cycle of rising water and energy demands – the ‘energy-water nexus’.”

Richard Taylor, chief executive of the International Hydropower Association, said:  “The research shows that the hydropower sector is continuing to grow. Large-scale projects will always be a challenge because there are so many authorities and stakeholders involved.”

He added that “no projects move forward without the government concerned understanding hydropower.  It is their responsibility to create the right conditions to bring forward the best projects.  The spectrum of development models is increasing, and these will vary according to the local expertise and access to markets.  If hydropower’s contribution is to double, we need to share the knowledge that will lead to informed decisions that meet today’s sustainability criteria.”