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IEA’s Renewables 2019 report says hydro continues to be an important global player through 2024

Hydropower growth slows from 2019 to 2014 but it still accounts for 10% of the total increase in renewable generating capacity worldwide over that period. This is just one finding of the International Energy Agency’s Renewables 2019 report.

IEA says, “Hydropower remains the world’s primary source of renewable power in 2024.”

In both its main and accelerated cases, solar PV is the single largest source of additional expansion potential, followed by onshore wind and hydropower. In its main case, IEA says hydropower capacity will grow by 121 GW (or 9%) from 2019 to 2024. In its accelerated case, hydropower will add another 37 GW for a total of 158 GW added.

IEA says the main areas of growth for hydro are China, India and Brazil. In fact, a quarter of the global growth is expected to come from just three mega-projects: 16-GW Wudongde and 10-GW Baihetan in China and 6.2-GW Grand Renaissance in Ethiopia.

Apart from these three large projects, IEA says new capacity additions for hydro will continue to decline over the forecast period, due largely to a slowdown in the two largest markets, China and Brazil. In these two countries, “growth is challenged by rising investment costs due to remaining economical sites being limited and to extra expenditures to address social and environmental impacts.”

Areas where annual additions are expected are sub-Saharan Africa and in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region, IEA says.

Specific to pumped storage hydropower, IEA says it expands over the forecast period, “driven by the need for greater system flexibility to integrate increasing shares of renewables in China, Europe, North America and Australia.”

Overall, IEA says renewable power capacity will expand by 50% between 2019 and 2024, led by solar PV, which accounts for almost 60% of the expected growth. Onshore wind represents one quarter of the projected growth.