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Chinese additions to slow global decline in hydro’s share

Large-scale hydropower capacity additions in China, and elsewhere constructed by Chinese companies, will help offset the falling share of hydro globally between 2019 and 2030.

According to data and analytics company GlobalData, the share of hydropower in several major countries is estimated to continue falling but most of the largest upcoming hydropower plants are either in China or are being built by Chinese companies in countries such as Pakistan, Congo and Myanmar.

“During 2000–2010, the share of hydropower fell due to the rise in thermal power capacity driven by several countries’ needs to increase power capacities quickly and meet the demand created by growth of industries,” said Harshavardhan Reddy Nagatham, senior analyst of power at GlobalData. “During 2010–2019, the share fell further but not as much. This fall represents the growth of both thermal power and renewable power capacity. During this period, several countries pushed the growth of renewable power in order to comply with international emission reduction commitments.”

“Hydropower Market (Large Hydro, Small Hydro, and Pumped Storage), Update 2020 – Global Market Size, Segmentation, Investment Trends, and Key Country Analysis to 2030” says that China has the largest hydropower capacity in the world and for the past several years has been making the largest annual capacity additions, with over 12 GW added in 2019. Chinese hydropower plants under construction have not been affected much by the COVID-19 pandemic and, based on current plans, China is set to add over 140 GW of hydropower capacity during from 2020 to 2030.

As governments add thermal power to quickly cater to rising demand and non-hydro renewable power to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, hydro has been losing share in the power mix of several countries, GlobalData said. In 2000, over 22% of global power capacity was hydropower. This fell to 19.7% by 2010. During 2010 to 2019, the share fell further but not as much. During 2020 to 2030, the hydropower share is estimated to continue declining, with capacity share falling less than 2% and generation less than 1%.

Earlier this month, Hydro Review reported that the first unit of the 10,200-MW Wudongde hydropower station in China had been connected to the grid for power generation and completed 72 hours of trial operation.