The report, Technology Roadmap: Hydropower, challenges the notion that the world’s hydroelectric resources have peaked. Instead it says emerging economies have significant potential to generate electricity from large plants. The publication details action needed from policy makers to allow hydroelectric production to double, and addresses necessary conditions, including resolving environmental issues and gaining public acceptance.

‘Hydroelectricity is a very cost-effective technology already,’ iea Deputy Executive Director Richard H Jones said at the launch of the report during the HYDRO 2012 conference in Bilbao in Spain. ‘However, new developments face tough financial challenges. Governments must create a favourable climate for industry investment when designing electricity markets.’

The report calls for a holistic approach to deployment that takes into account other aspects of water management. In particular, it urges policy makers to:

• Establish or update the inventory of hydro power potential, at river basin level where appropriate, including options to upgrade existing plants or add hydro power units to dams originally developed for other purposes.

• Set hydro power development plans with targets, and develop a policy framework and market design for projects.

• Ensure that developers and operators document their approach to sustainability, such as filing environmental assessment reports or adopting voluntary protocols.

• Include the financing of hydro power on governments’ policy agendas and develop new public risk-mitigating financial instruments, especially for developing countries.