The Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE) and European Small Hydropower Association (ESHA) have signed a memorandum of understanding to promote small hydroelectric power in rural areas of developing and emerging markets.
The memorandum -- signed in Sao Paulo at a recent small hydro development conference -- commits the two organizations to "share knowledge and expertise relating to the off-grid sector, utilize and leverage existing resources, collaborate on research and dissemination of good practices, boost joint collaboration with other entities, and provide policy guidance to energy decision-makers in relevant locations."
Small hydropower is important, ARE and ESHA officials said, because it offers a simple, long-term and relatively low-cost solution for rural electrification.
"We believe that small hydro has proved to be a reliable renewable energy technology for major parts of the 1.3 billion people that still live without electricity," ARE Secretary General Marcus Wiemann said.
The agreement coincides with a shift in small hydroelectric investment patterns, the groups said, with more private firms and global power sector restructuring opening up competitive markets.
According to ESHA and ARE data, global production from small hydroelectric sources is expected to increase to 110 GW by 2015 -- up from 50 GW in 2008 -- with a market size increase from US$14 billion to $38.5 billion over the same time span.
"The number of potential sites for small hydropower on all continents is huge," ESHA Secretary General Dirk Hendricks said. "To allow communities and investors to use this untapped resource in order to create local jobs and to produce renewable electricity, ESHA calls on governments to create regulatory stability and fair market rules as a prerequisite for high investments and fast development."
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