The most severe global energy crisis in decades has hit household energy bills in many regions of the world, following record price increases in fossil fuels.
Clean energy systems can offer a long-term solution to the crisis. Renewable energy sources are becoming increasingly more cost-effective than fossil fuel options as the quality of technology improves.
Accelerating the transition to renewables can protect against future energy crises and secure affordable energy for generations to come, but this is only possible with an upscaling of investment in hydropower.
As a natural battery, hydropower can provide reliable energy storage at the scale that is needed to enable the necessary growth in variable renewables like wind and solar.
We can, with hydropower.
Hydropower has provided affordable energy to homes and businesses in many regions of the world for decades. For countries that have invested in hydropower, the technology provides a backbone of low-cost electricity generation.
While hydropower projects have high upfront costs during construction, they can provide clean energy for many decades with low running costs once in operation. As an example, the Ames hydropower plant in Colorado, USA, is still running today, 116 years since it began operating in 1906.
The longevity of hydropower means that its levelised cost of energy (LCOE) – which measures the cost of an energy source over its lifetime generating cycle – is lower than most other known technologies.
According to a recent study by IRENA, the global weighted-average LCOE of newly commissioned hydropower projects was US$ 0.044/kWh in 2020, which is lower than any other renewable energy source except for onshore wind (0.039/kWh).
Hydropower also compares favourably on cost with fossil fuels. IRENA’s report shows that 99% of hydropower projects commissioned in 2020 fell within or below the fossil fuel-fired cost range, and 56% had an LCOE lower than the cheapest new fossil fuel-fired power generation option.
And these figures do not take into account the value of the many ancillary services hydropower provides outside of electricity generation, such as water supply, flood and drought management, irrigation, navigation and recreation.
Hydropower is a mature technology that accounts for around half of the world’s total renewable energy generation today.
With energy conversion efficiency levels of 90%+, hydropower is among the most efficient known sources of energy. And with water as the driving force, customers are not at the behest of changing fuel prices.
We can provide affordable energy for generations. We can, with hydropower.
With hydropower, we can: