World seen adding 553,000 MW of hydro, other renewables by 2030

A U.S. agency report predicts global grid-connected hydroelectric power and other renewables generating capacity will increase by 553 gigawatts from 2003 to 2030, at an average annual rate of 1.9 percent.

International Energy Outlook 2006, by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), says much of the projected growth in renewables generation is the result of completion of large hydroelectric projects in developing nations of Asia.

“The need to expand electricity production with associated dams and reservoirs often outweighs concerns about environmental impacts and the relocation of populations,” the EIA said of hydro development in nations outside the developed Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries.

The report, issued in late June, noted China has ambitious plans to increase hydroelectric capacity, including completion of the 5,400-MW Longtan hydro project by the end of 2007 and the Three Gorges Dam project, to be completed at 18,200 MW by 2009 and already being expanded to 22,400 MW. It added that India and several other developing Asian countries, including Laos and Vietnam, have additional hydro expansion plans.

“In Central and South America, many nations have plans to expand their already well-established hydroelectric resources,” EIA said. “Brazil is the largest energy market in Central and South America, and more than 80 percent of its electricity generation comes from hydroelectric sources.”

However, the report said the Latin American nations also are expected to invest in other technologies, particularly natural gas-fired generation, to diversify their sources of electricity.

Canada, Turkey to lead OECD in new hydro

In the developed OECD countries, grid-connected renewables capacity is projected to increase by 0.8 percent per year to 2030. However, hydroelectric capacity in OECD countries is not expected to grow substantially. Only Canada and Turkey are expected to complete any sizable hydroelectric projects over the period.

“Apart from Turkey, where development of the 7,500-MW Southeast Anatolia hydroelectric system is ongoing, most hydroelectric resources in the OECD nations already have been developed or lie far from population centers,” EIA said.

The report only includes grid-connected hydro and other renewables, not reflecting the global growth of community-based, non-grid small hydropower.

Concerning overall electricity supply, the report said worldwide generating capacity from all sources is expected to increase at an annual average rate of 2 percent, to 6,349 GW in 2030 from 3,710 GW in 2003. Coal and natural gas are expected to remain the most important fuels for power generation through the period.

International Energy Outlook 2006 may be obtained free of charge from the U.S. Energy Information Administration Internet site,

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