31.5GW of new hydropower capacity was commissioned in 2016, according to estimates from International Hydropower Association (IHA), 2017 Key Trends in Hydropower.
The briefing precedes the 2017 Hydropower Status Report, which will feature more in-depth analysis of key topics and regional activity, and will be launched at the 2017 World Hydropower Congress, which takes place in Addis Ababa on 9–11 May.
China continues to lead in terms of the volume of new hydropower capacity, installing 11.7 GW in 2016, including 3.7 GW of pumped storage. Brazil also saw significant advances, installing 6.4 GW, including the completion of the 3.75 GW Jirau project.
The briefing also outlines the most significant current trends affecting hydropower. Ultra-high voltage transmission is connecting hydropower to markets, as the concept of ‘global energy interconnection’ is being implemented regionally and on an inter-continental scale to enable the massive growth in renewable energy technologies to meet global energy demand.
Progress in reporting on hydropower’s carbon footprint is noted in the briefing too. An international research initiative has developed a framework for calculating the net greenhouse gas emissions of freshwater reservoirs, in which pre-impoundment emissions specific to each reservoir will now be considered, as well as the multiple services provided by the reservoir.
Other notable sector trends identified in the briefing include the establishment of initiatives to manage the risk profile of hydropower, increased integration of renewables to support grid stability, and new priorities emerging on smart modernisation and digitisation of assets.
Richard Taylor, chief executive of IHA, said: “The latest data shows that the hydropower sector is continuing to grow steadily across the world, and we are seeing a renaissance in pumped storage development.
“This is indicative of hydropower’s increasingly important role in providing flexible support to renewable energy systems, as countries around the world take steps to meet the carbon reduction goals set out in the Paris Agreement.”