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Global hydropower industry- statistics & facts

Hydropower is harnessed from the kinetic energy derived from moving water. This power is often found in streams and rivers that flow from hills and mountains. Hundreds of years ago, this energy was used to power sawmills, domestic lifts, and many other domestic devices. In 1879, the first hydroelectric power plant was built at Niagara Falls and soon after began its operation to power a small city in Wisconsin. Generally, a hydropower plant consists of a plant where electricity is produced, a dam to control water flow, and a reservoir to store water. Hydropower accounts for nearly half of the total installed renewable capacity worldwide.

Hydropower generation and consumption

Hydroelectric energy production has increased to almost 4.3 petawatt hours, with global hydropower consumption reaching 37.64 exajoules in 2019. Predictably, countries with the highest share of hydropower consumptionare those with plenty of running water. In fact, hydropower is considered one of the cheapest sources of energy; after a facility’s construction and installation, harnessing the power of flowing water is essentially free. Additionally, the speed of running water can also be controlled through turbines to produce electricity on demand. China has the greatest hydropower generation of any country worldwide.

Large versus small hydropower projects

Although hydropower is considered a renewable energy source, large hydropower dams can still be responsible for environmental problems such as disrupting and damaging aquatic ecosystems. Most new hydropower projects worldwide must undergo an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment. Small hydropower technologies, are an alternative to large dam facilities, which garnered about 2.5 billion U.S. dollars in funding in 2019. The small hydropower market size is expected to grow to some three billion U.S. dollars by 2024.

Interesting statistics

In the following 4 chapters, you will quickly find the 22 most important statistics relating to "Global hydropower industry".


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