Facts and Figures

Hydropower supplies about 20% of the world’s electricity

  • Hydropower supplies about 20% of the world’s electricity, a share that has remained stable since the 1990s.
  • According to the International Energy Agency, electricity generation from hydropower and other renewable energy sources is projected to increase at an average annual rate of 1.7% from 2004 to 2030, for an overall increase of 60% through 2030.
  • The use of renewable energy resources has risen worldwide, but since renewable energy resources alone are not sufficient to meet the predicted dramatic increase in energy demands through 2030, fossil fuel extraction and development of nuclear energy will continue to increase, as will their impacts on water resources and the environment.
  • Development of hydropower will be limited by two main factors. The first is the modest spatial and geophysical potential for new hydropower installations. Other limiting factors are investment capacity (including the availability of funds) and the social and environmental impacts of large dams and the controversy surrounding them, which collectively explain why so little hydroelectric potential has been tapped in developing countries.

Related themes: Energy; Allocating Water

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