World Hydro Power Potential
by Prof. Raymond Lafitte - Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
International Hydropower Association - IHA - Secretariat : 123 Westmead Road, Sutton, Surrey SM1, 4JH, UK

This abstract looks at the important role that hydropower plays, and will continue to play throughout the 21st Century, in world electricity supply. Technical, economic and environmental advantages of hydropower are shown with some of the challenges currently facing hydropower development.
Hydropower provided at the beginning of the new Millennium 20% (2600 TWh/year) of the electricity world consumption (12900 TWh/year). It plays a major role in many countries. Of 175 countries, which have available data, more than 150 have hydropower resources. For 65 of them, hydro produces more than 50% of electricity; for 24, more than 90% and for 10, practically the total.
According to the Hydropower & Dams Atlas (H & D, 1999), world hydro potential is as follow:

The installed capacity is about 700 GW (corresponding to the 2600 TWh/year). The remaining exploitable capacity represents 1500 GW (producing 5500 TWh/year). It is estimated that by the middle of this century, the consumption of electricity in the world will be multiplied by a factor of 2.5 to 3.0. Hydropower, a renewable and clean energy, will contribute largely to this development.

It is undoubtedly possible to harmonize the implementation of hydro plants with conservation of the environment and to ensure that the plants represent a net benefit to those affected by their construction.
The main advantages of hydroelectricity can be summarised briefly as follow :

Finally, hydropower stations are very often integrated within multipurpose schemes, which satisfy other fundamental human needs (irrigation, domestic and industrial water supply, flood protection) and hydropower can help finance these other functions.

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Raymond LAFITTE, Graduated in 1958 from the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, is a dam expert for the Swiss Government. General Manager of Stucky Consulting Engineers Ltd from 1993 to 1998, he has been teaching, since 1977, power plants and hydraulic economy at the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne. Chairman of the Swiss National Committee on Large Dams, President of the International Hydropower Association (IHA), Member of the Board of Governors of the World Water Council, Former Chairman of the Committee on Dam Safety for the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD), he is a recognised international expert. He has published a number of scientific and technical papers and chaired sessions at many international conferences.

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