Related Links


REMIPEG Report: Part 4 - Hydropower maintaining its supremacy in 2014

Roman Vorobyev and Bernd Metzger

The World-Market Status special report – With its environmental, social and technical benefits acknowledged more than ever, hydro continues to play a strong and vital role, as the leading renewable energy source.

In terms of newly installed capacity hydropower, with a 168 GW growth during 2011-2013 and only 39 GW in 2014 (but more than 75 % in China) the cumulated hydropower capacity raised globally up to 1,059 GW, with an estimated annual electricity generation of around 3,815 TWh/y. As the leading renewable energy source, hydro helps some countries to meet their RE production targets, whereas others in the less developed parts of the world increase their national installed capacities, raising the standard of living.

But while many planned projects are finally moving ahead, there are still development gaps to fill, and lengthy negotiations and procedural hurdles to overcome. In countries where annual per capita electricity consumption is still less than 100 kWh, any kind of delay is unacceptable.BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) decided to form the New Development Bank (NDB), contributing each with $10 billion to the initial capital, which should finance “infrastructure and sustainable development projects” in the BRICS countries and other low- and middle-income nations. The World Bank, through its most recent energy strategy, and the African Development Bank, through its PIDA initiative, have both strengthen their commitment to support water infrastructure and hydropower. More than 75 % of the new installed capacity in 2014 came from China, converting this market in the most active in the field during 2014. The majority of new hydro power capacity was installed within 2014 in Asia.

The majority of the installed pumped storage capacity is in Asia (which currently has more than 55 GW of cumulative installed capacity with growing tendency. Japan is the absolute leader with 26.5 GW installed capacity as of 2014, followed by China with 18.8 GW in 2014. Europe has 50.5 GW pumped storage capacity with leaders being Italy, Spain, Germany, Switzerland and the UK.

Major hydropower projects completed in 2014

China is planning a 3.6 GW PSP in Hebei Province, which would be the world’s largest PSP. At the end of 2013 in Spain inaugurated the biggest PSP La Muela II after expansion with totally 2,000 MW. Indonesia is building the 1,040 MW Upper Cisokan PSP, due to be completed in 2018; India is continuing with construction of Theri PSP (1000 MW), due for completion in 2016. Ingula PSP in South Africa, the biggest PSP in Africa, with 1,332 MW was due to be commissioned in late 2014, but postponed to late 2015.

In 2014 more than 1000 MW of hydro has been commissioned in India: 240 MW at Uri III, 520 MW at Chamela III and 412 MW at Rampur HPP in Himachal Pradesh. Jinnah HPP project with 96 MW and Duber Khwar with 130 MW were commissioned in March 2014 in Pakistan. The first of three 82 MW Units of Stung Tatay HPP in Cambodia was commissioned in August 2014. Also the 338 MW Russei Chrum Krom hydropower plant was completed at the end of 2014 in the same country. 

Several hydropower projects were commissioned in Turkey (Kavsak Bendi with 186 MW and Aslancik with 93 MW). The Russian Federation celebrated the full re-commissioning of the Sayano Shushensk Power Plant (6,400 MW – 8 x 800 MW) in Siberia, and the last of nine units of the 3000 MW Boguchany Power Plant was commissioned in December 2014. 

The 160 MW Ilarion storage scheme in Greece entered full commercial operation in spring 2014. Landsvirkjun of Iceland commissioned its 95 MW Budarhals HPP in March 2014, as part of a five-plant cascade in the Thjorska and Tungnaa river basin. Norway has completed the 11 MW Kjensvatn plant as well as the Eiriksdal/Makkoren (84 MW) scheme. In Slovenia the Krsko HPP (40 MW) on the Lower Sava river was commissioned in 2014. The Hongrin Plus PSP scheme in Switzerland with 240 MW was at late commissioning stage at the end of 2014.

In Canada one of two 500 MW Units (Mica 5 HPP) was commissioned by BC Hydro in October 2014 and the 225 MW scheme Sagueney was completed as well. In Nicaragua, the third and final unit at the 118 MW Dos Mares scheme started at the beginning of 2014 commercial operation as well as the Bajo Frio with 57 MW at the end of 2014.

In late 2014 the Batalha HPP (52 MW) on river Sao Marcos in Brasil was commissioned. The 80 MW Amoya HPP in Tolima province in Colombia began commercial operation. All three 273 MW units of Sogamoso HPP were also commissioned. 
The Isimba Falls HPP in Uganda (Africa) with 188 MW was fully commissioned in the beginning of 2014.


Cumulated installed capacity 2014

Installed capacity 2014 

Estimated electricity generation 2014





North American




South American




















World total




Largest national market

China |  280

China  |  29.9

China  |  912

Figure 1.
Summary of the global hydro power market in 2014.

Projects under construction and development

China has the largest installed capacity in the world, accounting for 280 GW of the total installed capacity. It increased by nearly 160 GW since 2001 and continues its expansion with 57 GW under construction. Construction continues at various vast hydro projects, such as Xiluodu (13,7 GW), where nine units are already in operation. At least 8 other large-scale projects are under construction (incl. Jinping I and II, Guanyinyan, Changheba). 

In Vietnam, the 1,200 MW Lai Chau scheme is under way on the Da river, as the country’s largest scheme. About 2300 MW of hydro capacity is under implementation in Laos. In Malaysia work continues at the 372 MW Ulu Jelai and 250 MW Hulu Terengganu schemes. In Myanmar there is nearly 2,000 MW of hydro under construction at 11 projects. In Nepal the largest hydro scheme under construction is the 456 MW Upper Tama Koshi, due for completion in 2015. Other big schemes like Upper Karnali (900 MW), Upper Marsyangdi 2 (650 MW) and Arun 3 (900 MW) are under development. 

In Pakistan, the 969 MW Neelum Jhelum scheme is now nearing completion, and funding was agreed for the 1,400 MW Tarbela extension and 720 MW Karot. Soon to follow are Kohala (1,100 MW) and Suki Kinari (840 MW). In India, the slow pace of hydropower development is raising with at least 12,000 MW of hydro and pumped storage under development. 

One of largest hydro schemes currently under way in Europe is the 350 MW Skavica project in Albania on Upper Drin river, where the first two plants of the Devoll cascade are going ahead. EVN of Austria is making progress with two schemes (the 177 MW BMoglice and 65 MW Banje projects). Germany is upgrading the Waldeck pumped-storage scheme, with a new 300 MW plant planned to be built alongside the existing facility. In Switzerland the Nant de Drance (600 MW) will be commissioned next year. Another Swiss scheme in progress is Linthal 2015 (increasing the rating from 340 to 1,200 MW). 

Austria is under way with construction of Obervermuntwerk II (360 MW), Molln (300 MW) and the Reisseck II pumped-storage plant. Spain is planning to upgrade the Aguayo PSP adding additional 360 MW to the existing capacity of 1,000 MW. Portugal is continuing with its very active programme of pumped storage development with three new large schemes under construction (Baixo Sabor 142 MW, Ribeiradia/Ermida 81 MW and Foz Tua 252 MW). Belarus has just begun construction of the 40 MW Vitebsk run-of-river plant with Chinese assistance.

Ethiopia continues to have the largest hydro project under way for an African country (a total of 8,124 MW), including the GIBE III due in 2015 and the 6,000 MW Grand Renaissance scheme.  In Cameroon further 245 MW are under construction at Memveele, Lom Pangar and Mekin, Joules supports the development of Kpep plant (450 MW). Rwanda and Burundi are going ahead with Ruzizi III scheme (147 MW) and will also benefit from shares in the 80 MW Rusumo Falls scheme going ahead in Tanzania.

In Latin America, hydro capacity expansion in Brasil is planned by 2022. The largest hydro scheme Belo Monte (11,223 MW) is finally underway, after many setbacks and suspensions of work. In Peru, work is continuing at Chaglla (406 MW), where a contract was signed for construction of the 300 MW Molloco complex. In Venezuela the Tacoma dam with 2,160 MW Manual Pilar power plant as well as 514 MW La Vueltosa are near completion. In Colombia the Quimbo scheme (400 MW) is due for completion in 2015.

In Canada 6,000 MW of new hydro capacity is under study, and up to 25,000 MW more could be installed by 2025. Such schemes as 335 MW Waneta expansion, 900 MW Site C, 1,485 MW Conawapa, 1,550 MW Romaine, 150 MW Sarcelle and 250 MW Pehonen are underway. In Mexico, the 900 MW Parota scheme (delayed as a result of environmental concerns), 400 MW La Villita Michoacan and 253 MW Tumarin continue. 

The small hydropower market

The small hydropower market is still led by China from rural electrification programs promoted by the Chinese government. A small hydro potential in China is equivalent to about 128 GW. Currently, more than 30 % of China’s counties depend on small hydro, and this number increase year by year, totaling with 68 GW in 2014.

A huge small hydropower potential is also in India (15.5 GW), with a capacity in operation of 3.3 GW. In Brasil there are more in operation, nearly 5.0 GW of small hydro.

Pumped storage plants (PSP)

The last decade has seen tremendous growth of wind and solar generation in response to favorable tax incentives and other policies. While increasing the amount of renewables on the grid is a good thing, the variability of wind and solar generation increases the need for energy storage. Developing additional hydropower pumped storage, particularly in areas with recently increased wind and solar capacity, would significantly improve grid reliability while reducing the need for construction of additional fossil-fueled generation. Modern PSP can nowadays achieve around 80 % efficiency in energy conversion. Grid scale storage could also reduce the amount of new transmission required to support many states’ goals of 20-33% renewable generation by the year 2020.

Pumped storage hydropower has a long history of successful development in the U.S. and around the world. Energy storage has been a part of the U.S. electric industry since the first hydropower projects, primarily through the flexible storage inherent in reservoirs. In the last ten-fifteen years pumped-storage development in Europe has been taking off as power producers seek to complement wind and solar energy sources. By contrast, the abundance of natural gas and differences in politics and infrastructure have slowed similar development in the USA at the same time.

Currently there are approximately 132 GW of power capacity of PSP in operation throughout the world, representing 12% of the total. In 2014 Asia had 55 GW of PSP installed capacity (Japan with 26.5 GW and China with 18.8 GW), Europe – about 51 GW. In the second decade of this century it was even planned to commission 76 units with 11.5 GW, a joint initiative signed by Germany, Austria and Switzerland called in the beginning of 2012 for the development of more pumped-storage power plants. But these plans have been rapidly decreased in the last two-three years. In the USA as well, no new significant pumped-storage plants were commissioned between 2000 and 2010.

China is planning a 3.6 GW PSP in Hebei Province, which would be the world’s largest PSP. At the end of 2013 in Spain inaugurated the biggest PSP La Muela II after expansion with totally 2,000 MW. Indonesia is building the 1,040 MW Upper Cisokan PSP, due to be completed in 2018; India is continuing with construction of Theri PSP (1000 MW), due for completion in 2016. Ingula PSP in South Africa, the biggest PSP in Africa, with 1,332 MW was due to be commissioned in late 2014, but postponed to late 2015.


Dr. Roman Vorobyev is Hydropower Expert at Lahmeyer International GmbH, Bad Vilbel.
Bernd Metzger is Business Development Director Hydropower at Lahmeyer International GmbH, Bad Vilbel.


Share this article

More services


This article is featured in:
Other marine energy and hydropower