HomeFeatures/AnalysisGlobal hydropower market shows promise for future

Global hydropower market shows promise for future

The International Hydropower Association (IHA) has recently published a briefing titled ‘2016 key trends in hydropower’, which is due for release in April 2016. Together with IHA, ESI Africa has highlighted a few of the key findings around global installed hydropower capacity in 2015 and the continued traction that it shows for the future.

Despite volatile climate change impacts, affecting all parts of the globe, 2015 saw a total of 33GW of newly installed hydropower capacity globally, including 2.5GW1 of pumped storage – bringing the world’s total installed capacity to 1,211GW. Total hydropower generation for the year is estimated at 3,975 TWh2.

China continued to dominate the hydro market for new development and total installed capacity, adding 19.4GW of new capacity, including 1.2GW of pumped storage.

Following this lead included South and Central Asia (5.5GW), South America (3.4GW), East Asia and Pacific (2.7GW), North and Central America (1GW), Africa (0.7) and Europe (0.3GW).

[quote]The steady rise in hydropower has been attributed to global growing needs in the market around electricity reliability, affordability and its low carbon footprint. The study has identified that there continues to remain a large amount of untapped potential globally, particularly in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

According to the IHA report, demand for electricity and other related reservoir services remains high in these areas, creating a solid foundation for continued growth in hydropower.

Transitioning towards renewable hybrid systems

To quote the trends report: “The need to minimise the real-time variations of power provided to the grid has led to innovative hydropower control systems. In 2015, China completed phase II of the Longyangxia solar park, raising capacity from 320 to 850MW. The solar park is coupled directly to one of four turbines at the nearby 1,280MW hydro station; the advanced control system allows the turbine to regulate the variable supply from the solar park before dispatching firm power to the grid.

“This minimises the grid’s need for reserve capacity, frequency control and voltage regulation, and maximises PV utilisation and conserves water. Similar systems for wind-hydro hybrids are being developed.”

Pumped storage gains traction

Pumped storage accounts for around 97% of global energy storage capacity, continuing to increase in both developed and emerging markets.

South and Central Asia have 1GW of pumped storage capacity, followed by East Asia and Pacific (exl China) with 0.2GW and North and Central America with 0.1GW.

China has set a target of 70GW by 2020 of pumped storage capacity, of which over 27GW is currently under construction.

The report highlights that over 5GW of global pumped storage could come online in 2016, including Ingula (1,332MW, South Africa), Tehri (1,000MW, India), Reisseck II (430MW, Austria), LinthLimmern (1,480MW, Switzerland), and Zagorsk-II (840MW, Russia).

Indonesia, Vietnam, Lesotho, Egypt, Chile, Morocco and Turkey have plans underway to develop pumped storage facilities.

Africa drives hydro developments

In East Africa, Ethiopia’s Gilgel Gibe III (1,870MW) brought the first two of ten 187MW units online, with the balance set for commission in 2016, which will almost double the domestic hydropower capacity.

The report adds that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (6,000MW) expects to commission its first two 375MW turbines this year.

In West Africa, Guinea’s 240MW Kaleta project came online in 2015, which has almost tripled the country’s installed hydropower capacity.

The Democratic Republic of Congo has announced developments to commence construction of the 4,800MW Inga 3 project in 2017.

In Southern Africa, Zambia started construction at the 750MW Kafue Gorge Lower project in late 2015, which is said to boost domestic and regional supply once completed.


The ‘2016 Hydropower Status Report’ will be published in April 2016 and can be accessed on the International Hydropower Association website: http://www.hydropower.org/

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Ashley Theron
Ashley Theron-Ord is based in Cape Town, South Africa at Clarion Events-Africa. She is the Senior Content Producer across media brands including ESI Africa, Smart Energy International, Power Engineering International and Mining Review Africa.