China continues its dominance of the global hydropower market

edited by Gail Rajgor

Special report. Part two: China continues its dominance of the global hydropower market

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 2013 issue of Renewable Energy Focus (REFocus) magazine. For a free subscription, click here.

Part one - Summary

Part two - below

Part three - New markets for solar thermal power gain some momentum

Part four - Support grows for Ocean Energy

Part five - Rush for PTC saw the US edge China out of wind market lead in 2012

Part six - US still dominated the electricity from biomass world market in 2012

Part seven - 2012 was average year of growth for geothermal but showed potential...

Part two - Hydropower

WITH 30GW of new capacity installed during 2012, global cumulative hydropower capacity jumped to 1127GW by the year-end, providing an estimated 3524TWh of electricity generation annually. Thus, this technology is still by far the one with the highest cumulated installed capacity among renewable energy sources. 

Summary of the global hydropower market, region by region, end of 2012
  Cumulated installed capacity 2012 (GW) Newly installed capacity 2012 (GW) Estimated electricity generation 2012 (TWh/year)
Europe 276 0.9 745
North and Central America 189 2.0 664
South America 133 1.9 611
West and Central Asia 155 5.3 589
East Asia and Oceania (including China) 355 19.1 1,065
Africa 19 0.4 74
World total 1,127
Largest National Market China 241 China 15.9  China 794

Just over half (51%) of the hydro capacity installed in 2012 was in China, converting this market into the most active for the year. With the largest installed capacity in the world also, accounting 240.7GW of total capacity, the country is continuing its expansion and currently has 61GW under construction. The most notable Chinese projects underway are:

  • Baihetan (13.1GW), which will be the third largest dam in China when completed and the fourth largest in the world. It is slated for completion in 2019;
  • Wudongde and Xiangjiaba (8.7 and 6.4GW, respectively) are located in Jinsha River. Both are scheduled to be finished in 2015; and
  • Xiluodu (14GW) located in Yangtze River. This project was temporarily stopped by the Chinese government in 2005 due to lack of environmental impact studies, but construction is again underway.

Meantime after the controversies regarding the location of the Belo Monte hydroelectric power plant in the Amazonas Area, Brazil is surging ahead once again also. Based on projects underway, it will account for 11GW of new capacity in 2015.

The small hydropower market is also still led by China thanks to rural electrification programmes promoted by the Chinese government. Currently, more than 30% of China's counties depend on small hydro, and that is continuing to increase year by year. Although verified data is difficult to come by, we estimate that around 59GW of small hydro capacity has been installed around the globe.

Key milestones

  • One of the highlights of 2012 was the installation of the last 32 turbines for the completion of the third phase of the Three Gorges Dam, the largest Chinese hydropower plant and also the biggest in the world with a power capacity of now 22.5GW. After two decades of work, the plant, located in the Yangtze River, is estimated to generate 14% of China's total hydropower generation.
  • After decades of project delays, the Boguchany hydroelectric dam was commissioned on October 2012. The purpose of the combined gravity and rock-fill dam is hydroelectric production and has an installed electric power generation capacity of 3GW. It is located on the Angara River in Kodinsk, Russia.
  • Another outstanding hydropower project was completed on 20 December 2012 in the Black River, Vietnam. The Son La project is the largest hydroelectric power station in Southeast Asia comprising six turbines with a combined capacity of 2.4GW and an annual electricity generation of 10.3GWh.
  • One of the major hydroelectric projects under the Brazilian Government's ‘Programme of Acceleration of Growth’ was finished in 2012. The 1GW Estreito Hydroelectric Power Plant is located on the Tocantins River between the states of Tocantins and Maranhão in the northern region of Brazil and has a run-of-river reservoir.

Pump storage plants

The majority of the world's pumped storage plant (PSP) capacity is also to be found in Asia (which currently has 60GW of cumulative installed pumped storage, approximately), Europe and USA. In 2012, China was the biggest market with 1.5GW added, while the rest of Asia saw 470MW of additional pumped storage capacity connected to the grid. Europe followed with 324MW, but the US market stalled completely, with no new pumped storage capacity added.

In recent decades solar and wind energy have received a lot of incentives and favorable policies, thus installed capacity for both segments has grown tremendously. However, these two technologies are not capable of storing energy and the variability of their output makes PSP plants essential for grid flexibility.

PSP is still by far the most commercially proven technology available for grid-scale energy storage. Modern PSP can achieve around 80% efficiency in energy conversion. Improvements can be seen in modern reversible pump-turbines, adjustable-speed pumped turbines, new equipment controls such as static frequency converters and generator insulation systems.

Currently there is approximately 127GW of PSP power capacity in operation throughout the world, representing the 12.7% of total hydropower capacity. In 2012, Europe had a total of around 50GW of PSP installed and, thanks to positive policy, is expected to grow to 20GW in the next ten years in the Alpine regions (Switzerland, Austria, Germany) Spain and Portugal. China is planning a 3.6GW PSP in Hebei Province, which would be the world's largest, while Indonesia is building the 1.04GW Upper Cisokan PSP. 

Part 3 - New markets for solar thermal power gain some momentum

The REMIPEG databank

With its Renewable Electricity Market, Installed Power and Annual Electricity Generation (REMIPEG), German engineering firm Lahmeyer International has tracked the implementation of renewable electricity capacity around the world since 2008, updating its database annually, with Renewable Energy Focus then publishing the results.

Providing totals for newly installed plant, cumulative capacity, and estimated electricity generation output, country-by-country, for each renewable energy generation source, the databank is compiled using publicly available information along with expert information from consultants in the field.

The authors of the REMIPEG report are Dr. Andreas Wiese, Dr. Patric Kleineidam, Kuno Schallenberg, Florian Remann, Thorben Gunkel, Camilo Varas, Holger Zebner, Gildas Courtet, and Sergi Pedra from Lahmeyer International GmbH; Andrea Stooßa from the Institute of Environmental Technology and Energy Economics, Hamburg University of Technology, and Stadtreinigung Hamburg; and Martin Kaltschmitt, also from the Institute of Environmental Technology and Energy Economics, Hamburg University of Technology.

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10 October 2013
China is leader in Hydro power.
Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

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