As we look forward to the hydropower industry over the next year, there are several significant trends to keep an eye on that will shape the industry's future.
Small-scale hydropower projects - While large-scale hydroelectric dams have traditionally been the focus of the hydropower industry, smaller projects that can generate power on a community or household scale are becoming increasingly popular. Small-scale hydropower projects typically have a capacity of less than 10 MW and can be developed on existing water infrastructure such as irrigation canals or old mill sites. In addition to providing a source of clean energy, small-scale hydropower projects can also help to support local economies and improve access to electricity in rural areas.
Refurbishment of existing hydropower facilities - Many of the world's hydropower plants were built several decades ago and are in need of maintenance and upgrades to ensure their continued operation. Refurbishment projects can involve replacing outdated equipment, improving dam safety measures, or upgrading control systems to improve efficiency and reliability. Refurbishing existing hydropower facilities can help to extend their lifespan and increase their energy output, while also reducing the need for new construction.
Adoption of new policies and regulations to promote renewable energy development – Governments around the world are increasingly recognizing the importance of transitioning to a low-carbon economy and are implementing policies to incentivize the deployment of renewable energy technologies. In particular, policies that support the development of new hydropower projects, such as feed-in tariffs, tax incentives, and streamlined permitting processes, could help accelerate the growth of the industry.
Advancements in hydropower technology - The hydropower industry is constantly evolving, and 2023 is set to see significant advancements in technology. One area of focus will be the development of new turbines that are more efficient and cost-effective. Another area of innovation will be the use of digital technologies to optimize hydropower operations and maintenance.
Hydropower and Climate Change - As the world continues to grapple with the effects of climate change, hydropower is increasingly seen as a critical part of the solution. In 2023, we can expect to see more emphasis on the role of hydropower in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating the impacts of climate change. This will include the development of new hydropower projects that prioritize environmental sustainability and the integration of hydropower into broader climate change mitigation strategies.
Hydropower and Sustainable Development - Hydropower is a key contributor to sustainable development, helping to meet energy needs while supporting economic growth and social development. In 2023, we can expect to see more emphasis on the social and economic benefits of hydropower, including the creation of jobs and the provision of clean energy to remote and underserved communities.
The hydropower industry is likely to continue to play an important role in the global energy mix in the coming years. Developments such as the growth of small-scale hydropower, significant advancements in technology, and the refurbishment of existing facilities can help to expand the industry's reach and increase its contribution to clean energy production.