Report shows potential for global small hydro growth, development

A new report from energy market analyst GlobalData indicates that governments around the world are beginning to see advantages of small hydropower development, HydroWorld.com has learned.

According to the report, titled "Small Hydropower (SHP) - Installed Capacity, Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE), Competitive Landscape, Opportunity and Key Country Analysis to 2020," global installed hydropower capacity increased from 896.9 GW in 2006 to 1,072.1 GW in 2011.

The report says that number is expected to grow to 1,443 GW by 2020, in part due to an increased emphasis by governments around the world.

GlobalData's research indicates many countries are actively seeking ways to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and minimize carbon footprints, and small hydro plants have become an attractive solution.

GlobalData says small and mini hydro plants' effects on both the environment and budgets is less substantial than large dams, thereby reducing issues created by deforestation and submergence. The company did not specify how it defined small and mini hydro capacity in its study, though projects smaller than around 35 MW are generally assigned to this category.

The report also notes that the small plants are quicker to construct and offer higher returns given the low capital investment required and smaller operational and maintenance costs.

China is noted as being the world's largest small hydro market, accounting for 55.3% -- or 59 GW -- of global installed small hydro capacity in 2011. India follows with 9%, and the U.S. rounds out the Top 3 with 6.9%. GlobalData forecasts the cumulative small hydro capacity to increase from its current 106.7 GW to 137.8 GW by 2020.

For more small hydropower news, visit HydroWorld.com's "Small Hydro" topic center.

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