IEA Report Shows Potential to Double Hydroelectricity Output by 2050

According to a report from the IEA, hydroelectricity production could be doubled by 2050 – preventing up to 3 billion tons of CO2 emissions from fossil fuel plants each year.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) released a report, Technology Roadmap: Hydropower, which states that emerging economies have the significant potential to generate electricity from large plants. The report also declares that action is needed from policy makers to resolve environmental issues, address necessary conditions, and gain public acceptance in order for hydroelectric production to be doubled.

"Hydroelectricity is a very cost-effective technology already," IEA Deputy Executive Director Richard H. Jones said at the launch of the report during the HYDRO 2012 conference in Bilbao. "However, new developments face tough financial challenges. Governments must create a favorable climate for industry investment when designing electricity markets."

Hydropower is the leading renewable electricity generation technology worldwide, with new capacity additions since 2005 generating more electricity than all other renewables combined. The report describes the sector’s diversity, ranging from run-of-river to reservoir plants plus pumped-storage hydropower, and calls for a holistic approach to deployment that takes into account other aspects of water management.

Hydroelectricity’s many advantages include reliability, proven technology, large storage capacity, and very low operating and maintenance costs. Hydropower is highly flexible, a precious asset for electricity network operators, especially given rapid expansion of variable generation from other renewable energy technologies such as wind power and photovoltaics. Many hydropower plants also provide flood control, irrigation, navigation and freshwater supply.