Systematic high-resolution assessment of global hydropower potential

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Population growth, increasing energy demand and the depletion of fossil fuel reserves necessitate a search for sustainable alternatives for electricity generation. Hydropower could replace a large part of the contribution of gas and oil to the present energy mix. However, previous high-resolution estimates of hydropower potential have been local, and have yet to be applied on a global scale. This study is the first to formally present a detailed evaluation of the hydropower potential of each location, based on slope and discharge of each river in the world. The gross theoretical hydropower potential is approximately 52 PWh/year divided over 11.8 million locations. This 52 PWh/year is equal to 33% of the annually required energy, while the present energy production by hydropower plants is just 3% of the annually required energy. The results of this study: all potentially interesting locations for hydroelectric power plants, are available online.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalPLoS ONE
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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