Renewable Power Generation - 2010 figures

David Hopwood

Special report. Part two: Hydropower remained top of the renewable league table in 2010...

About the article: This special Renewable Energy Focus power generation focus previews REMIPEG's latest update, carried out in the first four months of 2011 by Lahmeyer International, and presents an overview for each renewable power sector, based on scenarios up to the end of 2010.

This article is taken from the July/August issue of Renewable Energy Focus (REFocus) magazine. For a free subscription, click here.

NB: Part one of this series can be found here.

Hydropower remains the renewable source of energy that contributes most to electricity generation.

The total global installed capacity at the end of 2010 was around 1,031 GW. Around 39 GW of new capacity was installed in 2010. And the total estimated annual power generation from hydropower (as of the end of 2010) amounted to some 3,618 TWh/y.

The largest single national market was China, which has 200 GW installed capacity, 18 GW new in 2010 alone (see table below).

New hydro project development in 2010

  • The first of 6 turbines was connected to the national power grid in late December 2010, at Vietnam's Son La Station (total final capacity 2.4 GW). It is expected that this plant will be fully operational by 2012;
  • December also saw Laos officially inaugurate its 1,070 MW Nam Theun 2 hydro project. The US$1.45 billion project is co-owned by Électricité de France; the Lao Government; the Electricity Generating Public Co. of Thailand; and Italian-Thai Development. After five years of construction, the plant began supplying neighbouring Thailand with power in March 2011;
  • In Brazil, the 855 MW Foz do Chapeco hydropower plant launched commercial operations at the second of its four generating units in November 2010. This first unit began commercial operation in October;
  • Another large project that went online in 2010 was the 460-MW Beles plant in Ethiopia. The project is owned by the Ethiopia Electric Power Corporation;
  • The largest hydro project in North America & Canada that went online in 2010 was the Toba Montrose project in British Columbia. After three years of construction, Plutonic Power completed the US$663 million run-of-river project, which is the largest source of privately generated renewable power in British Columbia. The 196 MW Toba-Montrose project began selling power to BC Hydro in August. It includes a 73 MW run-of-river facility on Montrose Creek, and a 123 MW facility on the East Toba River (source – Renewable Energy World).

The growth trend from previous years in pump storage continued, with a clear focus on Europe. As more renewable energy from variable sources finds its way onto the grid, developers are looking to pumped storage hydro power plants (PSP) as ideal backup for generation from sources such as wind power or solar electricity.

A new trend in 2010 also saw utilities start to upgrade existing PSP plants. Some examples were Vianden 11 (Luxembourg), Atdorf (Germany), Lago Bianco (Switzerland), Alto Támega (Portugal), Alqueva (Portugal), Aguayo (Spain), Cortes La Muela (Spain), and Zagorsk (Russia).

Summary of the global hydropower market, data as of the end of 2010 (sources: hydropower and dams (world), 2010; experts' estimates)
  Cumulated installed capacity 2010 (GW) Newly installed capacity 2010 (GW) Estimated electricity generation 2010 (TWh/year)
Europe 198.6 5.1 494
North America 169.1 2.7 659
South America 139.4 4.3 678
Asia & Oceania 393.5 24.2 1,263
Africa 23.5 2.5 101
World total 1,031
Largest national market China 200 China 18  

Part three: Wind market achieves steady year in 2010...

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