Full Title: 2021 Hydropower Status Report
Author(s): International Hydropower Association
Publisher(s): International Hydropower Association
Publication Date: June 10, 2021
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Now in its eighth edition, the 2021 Hydropower Status Report is published as the world continues to grapple with the Covid-19 pandemic.
Beyond Covid, the challenge of climate change remains the dominant issue for the energy sector. The International Energy Agency (IEA)’s flagship Net Zero by 2050 report, published in May 2021, suggests the world will need 2,600 GW of hydropower capacity by mid-century to have a chance of keeping global temperature rises below 1.5 degrees Celsius. That means that we need to build the same amount of capacity in the next 30 years as in the previous 100.
It is now becoming increasingly clear that the role of renewable hydropower will undergo a qualitative shift over the coming decades. While it will continue to provide low cost, baseload electricity in many markets, hydropower will increasingly be valued for its flexibility and provide essential support to the huge growth in wind and solar that is needed to limit global warming.
Indeed, as recognized by the IEA, hydropower will become the dominant source of flexible electricity by 2050, so it is essential that investment steps up to ensure low carbon energy security over the coming decades. Events over the past year have demonstrated that electricity systems need flexibility now. In Europe, in January 2021 a blackout event was avoided through the support of highly flexible sources of generation like hydropower, conversely in Texas in February supply failed in extreme weather and there was not enough flexible generation available to compensate.