Renewable Power Generation - 2011 figures

edited by Gail Rajgor

Special report. Part two: Hydropower falls behind wind and biomass as growth dips.

About the article: This special Renewable Energy Focus power generation focus previews REMIPEG's latest update, carried out in the first four months of 2012 by Lahmeyer International, and presents an overview for each renewable power sector, based on scenarios up to the end of 2011.

This article is taken from the July/August 2012 issue of Renewable Energy Focus (REFocus) magazine. For a free subscription, click here.

Part one - introduction (click here).

Part two - hydropower

With 33.4GW installed in 2011, new additions for the hydropower sector were down 13.7% on the 38.7GW installed the previous year. The dip in growth rate left it lagging behind wind and biomass in terms annual market share. However, with global cumulative capacity rising to 1072GW by end 2011 and an estimated annual electricity generation of around 3353TWh, hydropower still remains by far the biggest renewables contributor to global electricity supply.

Accounting for almost 60% of the new hydro additions, Asia & Oceania remained the most active market in the sector with almost 20GW installed (See table below). In terms of global cumulative installations the region also tops the table accounting for 35%.

The largest single market was China again, with 8.3GW of new hydro installed (24.85% of the 2011 total) to take its cumulative capacity to 224.8GW (21% of the global total). Indeed, China alone installed more hydro than Europe, which accounts for 21.86% (7.3GW) of the 2011 market and around a quarter of total installed hydro capacity worldwide to date.

Projects and key milestones

  • Chinese action included the commissioning of further capacity at the Jinanqiao (Golden and Peace Bridge) project, Jinsha River, in the south-west of the country. Under construction since 2005 and officially opened in 2010, the project is still ongoing. When fully commissioned, total capacity will be 2.4GW.
  • In 2011 the last three 700MW turbines were installed at the controversial Three Gorges plant on the Yangtze river in Hubei province, the world's biggest hydropower project (this July China state media reported the final turbine at the plant was fully commissioned and connected to the grid, heralding the official completion of the mammoth 22.5GW project). The plant produced 78TWh of electricity in 2011, equivalent to the output of all the photovoltaic plants operating worldwide last year.
  • In Brazil, the construction green light was given for the 11GW Belo Monte hydroelectric power plant, a project first mooted in 1975 but shelved due to the public controversy surrounding its planned location at the Xingu River in the fairly untouched Amazonas area. Revitalized in the late 1990s, new dam designs have been drawn up and the plant is expected to have a capacity factor of almost 40 %.
  • In Russia, construction continued in 2011 on the 3GW Boguchany hydro power project at the Angara River in Siberia. Commissioning is expected to start in 2013. In that year too, construction is slated to start on the 1.3GW Kankun hydro project now being planned in Eastern Siberia.
  • On the flipside, one major project to be shelved in 2011 was the Myitsone Dam and hydropower station at the Irrawaddy River in Burma. The country's government suspended plans for the development in September, bowing to strong pressure from national and international environmental groups and NGOs.

Pumped storage expansion

The move towards extending existing pumped storage hydro power (PSP) plants or building new ones to accommodate the increasing generation capacity coming from wind and solar PV continues.

Leading the field here is Germany. Its largest planned new PSP plant is the 1.4GW Atdorf Power Plant in the Black Forest, Southern Germany. Currently facing severe opposition (as with other new pump storage plans in the country), construction could start in 2013 with a view to completion in 2019, assuming planning permission is granted. Meantime, in terms of extending existing facilities, in November E.On received a permit to build a 300MW extension to its Waldeck PSP plant.

With German plans facing stiff opposition however, the biggest amount of new pumped storage power plants actually under development and construction are in Switzerland, Austria, and northern Italy. An example is the 1GW Lago Bianco power plant planned by Repower for the Swiss-Italian border. A special purpose company for this project was established in late 2011, with construction due to start in 2013.

In Russia, two PSP plants are being added to the Zagorsk I plant, which has been operating since 2000. Zagorsk II, at 840 MW, will be commissioned in 2014, while and RusHydro hopes to commission the 1.56GW Leningrad PSP plant in 2021.

Summary of the global hydropower market, region by region, end of 2011
  Cumulated installed capacity 2011 (GW) Newly installed capacity 2011 (GW) Estimated electricity generation 2011 (TWh/year)
Europe 274.6 (25.61%) 7.3 (21.86%) 742.8
North America 187.2 0.8 657.0
South America 130.9 4.1 602.6
Asia & Oceania 377.4 (35.2%) 19.7 (58.99%) 1,054.4
Middle East & Africa 31.8 0.4 89.5
Africa 18.7 0.4 72.4
World total 1,072.1
Largest National Market China 224.8 (20.97%) China 8.3 (24.85%)  China 695.2

 Part three (out soon): Wind market still on the up and dominated by China.

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