Hydropower now and in the Future

Worldwide there is an installed capacity of 777 GWe supplied 2998 TWh of hydroelectricity in 2006. This was approximately 20% of the world’s electricity, and accounted for about 88% of electricity from renewable sources. There is an esimated 8500 TWh commercializable hydropower in the world based on current technology and prices. Current projects in China and the rest of the world appear likely to have 4000 TWh of hydropower in 2020.

There are a few large hydroelectric projects in India, Burma, Russia, Brazil, and Venezuela but most are in China.

China’s hydropower capacity would grow to 284 gigawatts (GW) and pumped storage hydropower capacity to 41 GW by 2015, and to 330 GW and 60 GW, respectively, by 2020. China generates 580-700 TWH from about 200 GWe of hydro. Doubling the hydropower that amount would be about 1200-1400 TWh (an additional 580-700 TWh). China is expected to add about 100 GWe of nuclear power by 2020 which would generate about 700-800 TWh. The nameplate GWe does not closely compare the TWh generation for wind, solar, hydro and nuclear.

China may increase the hydropower target to 430 GWe in 2020

The country could start building 83 gigawatts (GW) of normal hydropower plants and 80 GW of pumped storage hydropower generating capacity from 2011 to 2015, up from previous goals of 63 GW and 50 GW, respectively, the China Securities Journal reported, citing an unnamed source.

The move would lift hydropower generating capacity by 2020 to 430 GW, from an earlier plan of 380 GW, the newspaper reported, adding that the revised plan had been submitted to the National Development and Reform Commission for review.

China’s hydropower (damming of rivers) also is used to deepen rivers to enable 10,000 ton barges to travel more rivers. The barges reduce the cost of moving goods from the coastal areas and to enable more economic development in the interior.

India has a hydropower generation capacity of 36,085MW and plans to add another 15627MW by 2012. While India has a potential of 300,000MW, around 145,000MW is exploitable. Bhutan, which is strategically located between India and China, is estimated to have a potential to generate 30,000MW of hydropower, but has an installed capacity of just 1,490MW.

Russia still has a lot of untapped hydropower potential. (22 pages)

Russia may need to go from using 1200 TWh of electricity in 2010 up to about 1700-2000 TWh in 2020.

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