Hydropower stations under construction are expected to increase global capacity from a baseline of 1,067 gigawatts at the end of 2011 to 1,300 gigawatts by 2017.
The percentage of undeveloped potential is highest in Africa (92%), followed by Asia (80%), Australia (80%) and Latin America (74%). Africa has the most untapped hydropower potential, mainly from the Congo, Nile, Niger and Zambezi rivers.
Most of the growth in hydropower is expected to come from the Asia Pacific region, notably from China and India, with many projects including an exportation of the pipeline, which can benefit the neighbouring countries. The greatest increase will be from China, which is expected to increase its output from 431 TWh in 2006 to 1,098 TWh by 2030, representing an annualized average increase of 4%.
In industrialised countries, upgrading or redeveloping existing plants will deliver additional benefits and efficiency and mitigate the limiting factors of large-scale hydropower production. New investments in hydropower are less likely due to environmental concerns, regulatory hurdles and poor economics.
Industry participants are of the view that it will be much easier to upgrade the current installed base with the addition of pumped storage and efficiency improvements. For example, new turbines and design innovations make modern hydropower plants more sustainable and environmentally friendly by increasing the fish survival rate as they pass through.
The International Energy Agency believes that, by the year 2050, annual global hydropower capacities and generation should double to approximately 2,000 gigawatts and 7,000 TWh respectively. Hydropower is being produced mostly by large generating plants; however, the environmental impact and bad press experienced by those plants in recent years will make it difficult for developers to build new large dams. Growth in smaller hydropower projects is more likely to occur in light of:
- The new legislation approved by the U.S. House of Representatives in 2013 aimed at streamlining regulations for small hydropower projects;
- Increased government investment in clean energy stemming from awareness of climate change, as can be evidenced by example of the White House‘s 2014 budget which commits to an increase in funding for clean energy technology by 30% to approximately $7.9 billion; and
- The generous feed-in tariffs in Europe.
It was expected that large hydropower plants as a percentage of total capacity will decrease from 92% to 89.5% by 2015. This decrease was not due to waning efficiency but rather the increased popularity of smaller plants. One particular area of growth will be the increase of pumped storage systems used in existing plant sites for electrical energy storage (―EES). According to Pike Research, the EES market was projected to grow from $329 million in 2008 to $4.1 billion by 2018.
Further technological improvements that increase efficiency of the installed base of power plants (and the new generation of plants in production) are expected. In addition, there is an increasing market for retrofitting systems with more efficient turbines and other performance enhancements.
Hydro Power Technologies Inc. foresees the following opportunities for the Technology:
- Providing modular high efficient systems for EES and recovery
- Run of the river
- Rivers and Lakes with shoreline Head availability
- Custom retrofitting of existing hydropower installations
- Installation of new energy storage and recovery systems
- Installation of new hydropower systems and new power grid systems in under-developed areas
- Retrofit solutions for existing hydropower production plants
- Scalable power generation for remotely located industries such as mining, saw mills and Gypsum mining stacks