Doubling global hydroelectricity output by 2050 could cut three billion tonnes of carbon emissions per year from fossil fuel plants.
That’s according to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) new report which challenges the concept that the world’s hydroelectric resources have peaked. It suggests emerging economies have “significant potential” to generate electricity from large hydro plants.
The ‘Technology Roadmap: Hydropower’ urges policy makers to establish or update the potential of hydropower, including options to upgrade existing plants or add hydropower units to dams originally developed for other purposes. It also suggests targets should be set and a policy framework should be developed in addition to resolving environmental issues and gaining public acceptance.
Richard H. Jones, IEA’s Deputy Executive Director said: “Hydroelectricity is a very cost-effective technology already. However, new developments face tough financial challenges. Governments must create a favourable climate for industry investment when designing electricity markets.”
The IEA suggests hydroelectricity is highly flexible and is a “precious asset” for electricity network operators, with “rapid expansion of variable generation from other renewable energy technologies” such as wind power and solar. It also has many advantages including reliability, large storage capacity and very low operating and maintenance costs.
According to the report, hydropower is the leading renewable electricity generation technology worldwide, generating more electricity than all other renewables combined, with new capacity additions since 2005.