Perspectives: Hydro Leads the Way

Consider these facts*:
– One-fifth of all electricity produced worldwide comes from renewable sources.
– Of that 20%, hydropower is … far and away … the leading contributor (80% of the 20% comes from hydro).
– In North America, more than 500 MW of new hydropower was added to the grid in 2010.
– During 2010, the first commercial-scale, grid-connected wave generator marked its 10th year of operation, having fed electricity into the grid for about 60,000 hours and achieving an average annual availability of 95%.

Bottom line: As North America accelerates its transition to a green economy, hydropower … including ocean, tidal and stream power … is undeniably the leader of the renewables sector.

While other renewable energy sources, particularly solar, have seen huge annual growth rates in recent years, hydro has remained the steady leading contributor. And, frankly, I don’t see that changing for the future.

One of the most impressive attributes of hydro is its low cost to produce. In a recent edition of Hydro Review’s sister publication Power Engineering, Jeanne Hilsinger, president of turbine supplier Mavel Americas, shared her “2 cents” about the cost of hydro production:

“We know that hydroelectric power is an inexpensive energy resource. The October 2010 quarterly report of the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) noted that the leveled cost of producing 1 kilowatt-hour of hydroelectric power is 2 cents. This compares to costs of other renewable and non-renewable sources of between 6 and 13.5 cents.”

Not only is hydro the least-cost renewable, it’s the most efficient. In her article, Hilsinger points out that the electricity produced from 1 MW of installed capacity in a hydroelectric power plant in any given year is about double the average of other renewable energy sources.

For more than 100 years, hydro has remained steadfast … a low-cost, efficient renewable energy resource for the world. And, looking forward to a future in which renewable energy will contribute in an even more significant way to our economy, hydropower, no doubt, will continue to lead the way.

Marla J. Barnes
Publisher and Chief Editor

*Facts extracted from Renewables 2011 Global Status Report, published by REN21, the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century,

Postscript: As we conclude the year 2011, we also conclude a year of celebration here at Hydro Review. During the 30th anniversary year of this magazine, it’s been our pleasure to serve more than 10,000 magazine subscribers, organize record-setting hydro events throughout the world, and grow hydro’s digital media presence on the web and in the world of smart phone apps. Thank you to each reader and advertiser who played a part in the past 30 years of this publication. On to the next 30!

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