A new analysis identifies a gap in hydroelectric capacity that is needed to keep global warming to a minimum
According to a new assessment issued by experts from the International Hydropower Association, more over 500GW of hydropower installations are in the queue globally, but this is far short of what is necessary to control global warming.
The paper compares present and anticipated hydroelectric capacity to routes to net zero developed by the IEA and the International Renewable Energy Agency.
Both the IEA and IRENA models show that by 2050, about 850GW of new hydropower capacity would be needed to keep global warming below 2°C, implying a shortfall of more than 300GW based on the present pipeline.
According to the analysis, more than 1200GW of extra hydropower capacity will be required to meet the more ambitious net zero aim of limiting temperature change to below 1.5°C, leaving a shortfall of over 600GW.
“Our analysis shows that, even if we built all of the 500-plus GW of projects in the pipeline, we would still be far short of the sustainable hydropower required to keep global warming below 2°C, let alone achieve net zero emissions,” said Alex Campbell, head of research and policy at the International Hydropower Association.
“Policymakers must take immediate steps to close this gap.”
Only 156GW of the more than 500GW in the pipeline is under development, with a another 165GW permitted by authorities.
This is still much below the amount necessary from hydropower to achieve net zero emissions under the IEA and IRENA models.
Annual increase in installed capacity was just 1.6 percent in 2020, much below the needed minimum of 2 percent.
The research emphasizes the future potential of hydropower in less developed regions, as well as the importance of hydropower in many nations’ transitions to renewable energy and expanding access to electricity to rising populations.