Hydroelectricity growing worldwide, study indicates

WASHINGTON, D.C. 1/24/12 (PennWell) -- A recent report published by the Worldwatch Institute indicates hydropower consumption increased more than 5% between 2009 and 2010.

The study found hydroelectricity accounted for a 3,427 TWh -- or 16.1% -- of global electrical consumption by the end of 2010.

China led the world in hydropower production, producing 721 TWh in 2010 and having an installed capacity of 213 GW. In all, hydroelectricity accounts for about 17% of China's domestic electricity usage, and the country is planning to add 140 GW of hydropower by 2015.

China's hydropower boom is one reason the Asia-Pacific region generated roughly 32% of the world's hydropower in 2010.

Meanwhile, Africa produces the least hydropower but has perhaps the greatest potential for increased production. The continent produced 3% of the world's power in 2010.

The report shows that four countries -- Albania, Bhutan, Lesotho and Paraguay -- generate all their electricity from hydropower, while 15 countries generate at least 90% from hydropower. Iceland, New Zealand and Norway produce the most hydropower per capita.

Small hydropower facilities, which the report defined as plants that generate 100 kWh or less, accounted for roughly 60 GW (6%) worldwide. But, the study notes it is a sector that has grown quickly over the past decade.

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