Hydropower

Hydropower, the oldest form of renewable energy, is well established and is competitive economically with electricity generated by other means. Some hydroelectric schemes are extremely large. The world's largest, the Three Gorges

Other Tidal

Geothermal

Biomass, waste

Solar:

concentrated solar power

Solar:

photovoltaic Wind

Hydro

Figure 11.12 Growth of renewable power generation in the IEA BLUE Map energy scenario, 2000-2050.

project on the Yangtze River in China, generates about 18 GW of electricity. Two other large schemes, each of over 10 GW capacity, are in South America at Guri in Venezuela and at Itaipu on the borders of Brazil and Paraguay. It is estimated36 that there is potential for further exploitation of hydroelectric capacity to two or three times the amount that has currently been developed, much of this undeveloped potential being in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Large schemes, however, can have significant social impact (such as the movement of population from the reservoir site), environmental consequences (for example, loss of land, of species and of sedimentation to the lower reaches of the river), and problems of their own such as silting up, which have to be thoroughly addressed before they can be undertaken.

But hydroelectric schemes do not have to be large; small hydroelectric sources are increasingly providing an important resource. Many units exist that generate a few kilowatts only to supply one farm or a small village. The attractiveness of small schemes is that they provide a locally based supply at modest cost. Substantial growth in 'small hydro' - much of it designed to run in-river - has occurred during the last decade or so, but only about 5% of the global potential resource of 150 or 200 GW has yet been exploited.

An important facility provided by some hydro schemes is that of pumped storage. Using surplus electricity available in off-peak hours, water can be pumped from a lower reservoir to a higher one. Then, at other times, by reversing the process, electricity can be generated to meet periods of peak demand. The efficiency of conversion can be as high as 80% and the response time a few seconds, so reducing the need to keep other generating capacity in reserve. Currently about 100 GW of pumped storage capacity is available worldwide but the potential is considered to be at least ten times that figure.

g 14 000

tS 12 000

S 10 000

-Q 4000 cS

Figure 11.12 Growth of renewable power generation in the IEA BLUE Map energy scenario, 2000-2050.

2000 2005 2010 2015 2020 2025 2030 2035 2040 2045 2050

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2000 2005 2010 2015 2020 2025 2030 2035 2040 2045 2050

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