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Clean Energy Market

Small Hydro is among the cleanest energy resources. It competes equally with wind power, but typically has a lifespan exceeding wind power assets by up to 75 years.

The renewable energy market worth in 2022 is estimated at approximately $1 trillion, up from about $850 billion in 2020. The sector's market valuation for 2030n has been estimated at around $2 trillion by 2030, a CAGR of 8.5%.

By 2021, renewable energy resources produced roughly 27% of the world's energy consumption. of that, hydropower accounted for over 50%. Within the hydropower sector, small hydropower is the fastest growth area.

Hydropower has the best energy return on investment (ERoI) of all power generation sources compared with other renewable energy technologies and fossil fuels (see 'Small Hydro outperforms any other energy source'). 

Small Hydro Outperforms
All Other Power Generation Technologies

Swiss data shows that small hydro outperforms other renewable and non-renewable power generation technologies when it comes to economic performance. 

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Small hydropower shows superior performance compared with other renewable power production technologies and also fossil fuels. It offers increased returns through lower running costs, and  benefits the environment over a longer life span than other renewable resources such as solar and wind. 
A comparison of the ERoI for different kinds of electricity generation plants shows that hydropower has  the best ERoI score. 

Image by Sergei A


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The global hydropower industry is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 5.9% between 2019 and 2027.

China is the world's largest producer of hydropower, generating 1,355.2 terawatt hours, followed by Brazil and Canada with 391.2 and 382.35 terawatt hours respectively.

In 2020 in the EU, all renewable power sources combined generated more electricity than fossil fuels for the first time, a key milestone towards decarbonization. 

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Hydropower Generation

The hydropower sector generated a record 4,370 terawatt hours (TWh) of clean electricity in 2020 - up from the previous record of 4,306 TWh in 2019. 



  • ​Generation by hydropower – 724 Twh

  • Total installed capacity – 205 GW

  • Hydropower capacity added in 2020 – 531 MW

  • Pumped storage installed capacity – 23 GW

  • Pumped storage capacity added in 2020 – 0 MW


  • ​Generation by hydropower – 139 Twh

  • Total installed capacity – 38 GW

  • Hydropower capacity added in 2020 – 938 MW

  • Pumped storage installed capacity – 3 GW

  • Pumped storage capacity added in 2020 – 0 MW


  • ​Generation by hydropower – 690 Twh

  • Total installed capacity – 177 GW

  • Hydropower capacity added in 2020 – 476 MW

  • Pumped storage installed capacity – 1 GW

  • Pumped storage capacity added in 2020 – 0 MW


  • ​Generation by hydropower – 676 Twh

  • Total installed capacity – 254 GW

  • Hydropower capacity added in 2020 – 3,032 MW

  • Pumped storage installed capacity – 55 GW

  • Pumped storage capacity added in 2020 – 0 MW


  • ​Generation by hydropower – 1,642 Twh

  • Total installed capacity – 501 GW

  • Hydropower capacity added in 2020 – 14,466 MW

  • Pumped storage installed capacity – 70 GW

  • Pumped storage capacity added in 2020 – 1,200 MW


  • ​Generation by hydropower – 498 Twh

  • Total installed capacity – 154 GW

  • Hydropower capacity added in 2020 – 1,609 MW

  • Pumped storage installed capacity – 7.75 GW

  • Pumped storage capacity added in 2020 – 300 MW

Hydroelectric Power Station

Hydropower capacity

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35 countries added hydropower capacity in 2020, down on the 50 countries that added capacity in 2019. The total amount of new capacity added however increased from 15.6 GW to 21 GW. The countries with the highest individual increases in installed capacity were China (13.8 GW) and Turkey (2.5 GW). 

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According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the world’s existing hydropower capacity will need to grow by around 60% by 2050 to reach 2,150 GW to help limit the rise in global temperature to below 1.5 degrees Celsius of pre-industrial norms. Such growth would help generate some 600,000 skilled jobs over the coming decade and would require an estimated investment of US$1.7 trillion.

Hydropower accounts for nearly a third of the world’s capacity for flexible electricity supply and has the potential to provide even more.

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16% of the electricity generated worldwide is hydropower.

Only 30% of global hydropower potential has been utilized. Existing plants hold enormous potential for expansion through modernization.

With generator turbines typically running at  90% efficiency and with a potential lifespan of up to 100 years, hydropower is one of the most efficient forms of energy generation and flexible storage.

Over 2 million people are employed in the hydropower sector worldwide.

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