Large hydro spend represented 17%-22% of the total investment in renewables in 2007, given the estimated range of expenditure in the sector.

The capacity of large hydro stood at 770GW to give a total renewables capacity of 1,101GW in 2007, and this came from a 6GW increase on the previous year and that figure was itself 15GW higher than the 748GW in 2005.

Excluding large hydro, investment reached an estimated US$71B in renewable power, fuel and heat production assets in 2007 – almost half of that sum being spent on wind power and 30% on solar photovoltaics (PV).

The figures indicate that even at the highest estimated level of expenditure the investment in large hydro last year was only 60% of that in wind and on par with that in solar PV. Wind power capacity was 95GW in 2007, a rise of 21GW or 28% on 2006.

Global final energy and electricity consumption are still dominated by fossil fuels, which had shares of 79% and 67%, respectively, in 2006. The difference was taken up by nuclear power as renewables met 18% of the need for both global final energy consumption and electricity supply.

In terms of global electricity supply from renewable, though, large hydropower was still dominant. The figures for 2006 say 15% of total supply was from large hydro, which equated to just over four-fifths of the renewables share.

It was small hydro though, that was mentioned along with wind, solar and geothermal energy as being able to offer countries the means to improve their energy security and economic development. Often large hydro is set apart when renewables capacity or expenditure is discussed in an international context.

Chair of REN21, Mohamed El-Ashry, said: So much has happened in the renewable energy sector during the past five years that the perceptions of some politicians and energy-sector analysts lag far behind the reality of where the renewables industry is today.’

The Renewables 2007 Global Status Report was also presented at the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference (WIREC) in Washington D.C. last week.

At the event, Daniel Yergin of US consultant Cambridge Energy Research Associates (Cera) also presented research that classed hydropower as one of two ‘conventional emission-free technologies’ the he forecast would deliver almost half the extra gross clean power capacity by 2030. The other technology is nuclear power.