The hydropower opportunities and environmental sensitivities map found almost 26,000 locations where a hydropower turbine could theoretically generate electricity.
These hydropower sites could produce 3% of the country’s 2020 renewable electricity needs. In reality, however, only some of these sites could be exploited due to environmental sensitivities, as well as practical constraints such as access to the electricity network.
The report found that a sensitively designed hydropower scheme that includes a fish pass could improve the local environment as well as generate electricity in around 5000 sites. These hydropower opportunities are particularly concentrated on rivers such as the Severn, Thames, Aire and Neath.
With the UK Government feed-in tariff of £0.20/kWh of electricity produced from 1 April, a medium-sized hydropower scheme that typically generates enough electricity for about 32 homes, could receive around £25,000 a year.
Average hydropower set up costs range from £100,000-150,000. But, the Environment Agency stressed, that only schemes that are well designed and have no negative impacts on the river wildlife or the local environment will get the go ahead.