Saturday, February 18, 2012

Hydropower – good to know

The worldwide use of hydropower is constantly growing, and has increased by 5,2% in period between 2009 and 2010. At the end of 2010 global hydropower capacity accounted to a record 3,427 terawatt-hours, contributing to more than 16 percent of globally produced electricity.

The hydropower still has relatively low costs, in average around 3 to 5 U.S. cents per kilowatt-hour and it is also one of the most reliable energy sources in the world.

The flexibility of hydropower plants is often neglected advantage of hydropower because many people tend to forget the fact that hydroelectric power plants can be ramped up and down very quickly to adapt to demands in energy supply.

Itaipu dam, Brazil.
Hydropower is by no means a perfect source of energy because huge dams can create soil erosion, interrupt the flow of the rivers, flooding and they also often lead to displacement of people and wildlife.

Many energy experts agree that future looks bright for hydropower because of its good cost parity with fossil fuels and also because its climate benefits. Many countries with adequate water resources could use hydropower to reduce their amount of greenhouse gas emissions.
China is still the world’s largest hydropower producer and will likely further expand its lead in global hydro use in the coming years. The Chinese produced 721 terawatt-hours in 2010, roughly accounting for 17 % of domestic electricity use. China's total installed hydropower capacity, at the end of 2010 was 213 gigawatts (GW). China it is also the home to world's largest hydroelectric power plant, the Three Gorges Dam and plans to add another 140 GW of new hydropower capacity by 2015

Hydropower is widely used source of energy as there are at least 150 countries currently using some form hydropower. Hydropower could be a good clean energy choice for Africa because Africa has good hydropower potential and very little of installed hydropower capacity.

Here are also some interesting details from the latest Worldwide Institute Watch study:
  • Five countries -   China, Brazil, the United States, Canada, and Russia accounted for approximately 52 percent of the world's installed hydropower capacity in 2010.
  • There are now three hydropower plants larger than 10 GW: the Three Gorges Dam in China, Itaipu Hydroelectricity Power Plant in Brazil, and Guri Dam in Venezuela.
  • A total of $40-45 billion was invested in large hydropower projects worldwide in 2010.

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