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Title: A Comprehensive View of Global Potential for Hydro-generated Electricity

In this study, we assess global hydropower potential using runoff and stream flow data, along with turbine technology performance, cost assumptions, and environmental considerations. The results provide the first comprehensive quantification of global hydropower potential including gross, technical, economic, and exploitable estimates. Total global potential of gross, technical, economic, and exploitable hydropower are estimated to be approximately 128, 39, 32, and 27 petawatt hours per year, respectively. The economic and exploitable potential of hydropower are calculated at less than 9 cents/kWh. We find that hydropower has the potential to supply a significant portion of the world energy needs, although this potential varies substantially by region. Globally, hydropower can potentially supply about 1.5 times the total electricity demand in 2005. Estimated hydropower resources in a number of countries are sufficient to accommodate their demand for electricity in 2005, e.g., Brazil (5.6 times), Russia (4.6 times), and Canada (3.5 times). A sensitivity analysis indicates that hydropower estimates are not highly sensitive to five key parameters: design flow (varying by -2% to +1% at less than 9 cents/kWh), cost and financing options (by -7% to +6%), turbine efficiency (by -10% to +10%), stream flow (by -10% to +10%), and fixed charge rate (bymore » -6% to 5%). This sensitivity analysis emphasizes the reliable role of hydropower for future energy systems, when compared to other renewable energy resources with larger uncertainty in their future potentials.« less
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Resource Type:
Journal Article
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Journal Name: Energy and Environmental Science, 8(9):2622-2633
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US)
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Country of Publication:
United States