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Double hydropower needed by 2050

The International Hydropower Association's 2024 World Hydropower Outlook calls for doubling hydropower capacity by 2050 to meet net zero targets, requiring $130 billion in annual investment

The International Hydropower Association (IHA) has released its 2024 World Hydropower Outlook, which underscores the crucial role of hydropower in achieving global net zero targets by 2050.

Currently, the largest single source of renewable energy, hydropower, particularly through pumped storage, provides over 90% of all stored energy worldwide.

The report estimates that global hydropower capacity must double by 2050, requiring a cumulative investment of approximately $3.7 trillion (£2.8tn), or about $130 billion (£101bn) annually.

This amount is more than double the current funding levels.

The IHA highlights hydropower’s effectiveness in mitigating the impacts of droughts.

The water storage function of hydropower reservoirs is estimated to prevent over $130 billion (£101bn) in annual GDP losses from drought incidents.

In 2023, China, Brazil, the US, Canada, and Russia were the top countries for installed hydropower capacity, with China accounting for nearly half of the new capacity.

While South and Central Asia have seen limited new capacity, the number of projects in the pipeline is highly encouraging.

Europe is focusing on modernising existing hydropower facilities and developing pumped storage to meet its 42.5% renewable energy target by 2030.

In Africa, hydropower provides 40% of sub-Saharan Africa’s power, yet 90% of the continent’s potential remains untapped.

In South America, hydropower contributes 45% of electricity supply, with over 13GW of projects planned.

Central America relies on hydropower for over 30% of its electricity.

In the US, there is significant potential for modernising hydropower infrastructure, with roughly half of the non-federal fleet due for relicensing by 2035.

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