Environmental Engineering Reference
9.8 Outlook and Development Potential
Among the different types of renewable energy generation, the use of hydroelectric
power is the most developed. In the industrialized nations most of the potential has
already been exploited. The potential for new large-scale plants now mainly exists
in the developing and emerging countries. Classic run-of-river and storage hydro-
power plants could at best double the output of electricity generated worldwide.
However, in the long term their share of energy production worldwide will decrease,
because the demand for electricity will continue to rise.
Certain types of hydropower plants, such as wave and ocean current plants, which
are not yet in use, show some promising potential for the future. However, substan-
tial cost reductions are still needed before these types of power plants can make any
major impact on the market.
The biggest advantage of hydroelectric energy is its relatively consistent output of
power compared to solar energy and wind power. This aspect makes it easier to
plan a mix of different renewable energies. With the share of renewable energies
being used to generate electricity increasing, storage and pumped-storage power
plants are also becoming important options due to their ability to offer consistency
in electricity supply.