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IRENA Report Analyzes Cost of Small and Large Hydropower

IRENA6 June 2012: The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has released a report titled "Renewable Energy Technologies: Cost Analysis Series – Hydropower," which finds that both small and large hydropower projects are cost competitive, but that potential for further cost reductions is rather small.

The report provides an overview of hydropower technologies and resources, global hydropower capacity and generation trends, the current cost of hydropower, cost reduction potentials, and the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) from hydropower. The report mentions that while hydropower is the largest renewable energy source, producing around 16% of the world's electricity and over 80% of the world's renewable electricity, significant hydropower potential remains unexploited.

Even though the costs of hydropower projects are very site-specific, the report finds that the LCOE is generally low, which makes both large and small hydropower projects very competitive to supply electricity to the grid, while small hydropower projects are also competitive to supply off-grid rural electrification schemes. Due to its maturity and commercially success record, the report finds little scope for further significant cost reductions in the short to medium term, but recognizes that development of more efficient, lower cost techniques in civil engineering could decrease costs in the future.

The report is part of IRENA's Renewable Energy Technologies: Cost Analysis Series, a set of five reports on wind, biomass, hydropower, concentrating solar power and solar pholtovoltaics that address the current costs of key renewable power technology options. [IRENA Press Release] [Publication: Renewable Energy Technologies: Cost Analysis Series – Hydropower]