3.1 Current Hydropower Capacity and Generation

Hydropower is the largest source of renewable power generation worldwide. In 2009/2010 11 000 hydropower plants15 in 150 countries were generating electricity. The total electricity generated by hydropower in 2009 reached 3 329 TWh, 16.5% of global electricity production (Figure 3.1). This is around 85% of total renewable electricity generation and provided more than one billion people with power (REN21, 2011 and IEA, 2011).

Global installed hydropower capacity was estimated to be between 926 GW and 956 GW in 2009/2010, excluding pumped storage hydropower capacity. Pumped hydro capacity was estimated to be between 120 GW and 150 GW (IHA, 2011) with a central estimate of 136 GW. In 2010, 30 GW of new hydro capacity was added (REN21, 2011 and BNEF, 2011). The global production of electricity from hydro was estimated to have increased by more than 5% in 2010. This was driven by new capacity additions and above average hydro inflows in China (IHA, 2011). The world leaders in hydropower are China, Brazil, Canada, the United States and Russia. Together these countries account for 52% of total installed capacity (Table 3.1)

Norway's generation system is almost 100% hydro, with hydro accounting for 97% of generation in 2009 and 99% in 2010. In 2010, hydro accounted for 84% of total generation in Brazil and 74% in Venezuela. Central and South America generate nearly 64% of all their electricity from hydropower (ANEEL, 2011). There are a number of countries in Africa that produce close to 100% of their grid-based electricity from hydro. Russia has an estimated 50 to 55 GW of installed hydropower capacity, which represents about one-fifth of the country's total electric capacity (Frost and Sullivan, 2011).

TABLE 3.1: TOP TEN COUNTRIES BY INSTALLED HYDROPOWER CAPACITY AND GENERATION SHARE, 2010

Source: IHA, 2012 and IPCC, 2011.

FIGURE 3.1: HYDROPOWER GENERATION BY REGION, 1971 TO 2009

Source: IEA.

Asia accounts for the largest share of global installed hydropower capacity, followed by Europe, then North and South America, then Africa (WEC, 2010 and IHA, 2011). China's installed hydropower capacity reached an estimated 210 GW in 2010, a significant increase over the 117 GW in operation at the end of 2005 (IHA, 2012 and US EIA, 2009). Despite having the largest installed capacity of hydropower plants in the world, only around 16% to 17% of China's total generation needs come from hydro. Hydropower in Africa currently accounts for some 32% of current capacity, but this capacity is just 3% to 7% of the technical potential on the continent (IRENA, 2011).

15 These plants contained an estimated 27 000 generating units.