Hydropower

Hydropower is expected to remain the world’s largest source of renewable electricity generation and play a critical role in decarbonising the power system and improving system flexibility.

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Key findings

Hydropower and pumped storage hydropower annual additions, main and accelerated, 2013-2024

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Hydropower capacity increases forecast to be led by China, India and Brazil

Over the next five years, hydropower capacity increases 9%, led by China, India and Brazil. One‑quarter of global growth is expected to come from just three megaprojects: two in China and one in Ethiopia. But apart from these three large projects, new capacity additions are forecast to continue to decline. This is largely due to a slowdown in the two largest markets, China and Brazil, where growth is challenged by rising investment costs due to remaining economical sites being limited and to extra expenditures to address social and environmental impacts.

Hydropower generation in the Sustainable Development Scenario, 2000-2030

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Hydropower additions are not fully on track with the Sustainable Development Scenario

Hydropower capacity additions declined in 2018 for the fifth consecutive year, putting this technology off track with the Sustainable Development Scenario, which requires continuous growth in new-build capacity to maintain an average generation increase of 2.5% per year through 2030.