project to a $7 billion U.S. government energy program known
as Power Africa.
Along with these types of trans-national investment deals supporting large-scale development opportunities that were previously out of reach, private sector investment is also seeing growth.
This development has often been accompanied by renewable
energy support policies.
With interest and investment in hydro picking up, investment
in technology research and development has followed suit. Of
particular note is the increased investment in tidal and marine
kinetic technologies, environmentally benign and fsh-friendly
architecture and pumped storage.
IHA estimates that some 516 MW of tidal and ocean hydro-
power was installed by the end of 2012, with a pipeline of at least
3 GW in the longer term.
Variable speed pumped storage turbines have also been a par-
ticular focus in light of their role in supporting variable output
Hydroelectric Pumped Storage via Shutterstock
renewable energy technolo-
gies such as wind and solar.
For instance a paper published recently by Stanford
University researchers examined the cost effectiveness
of energy storage systems,
fnding that pumped-stor-age hydropower offers not
only one of the highest ratios
in terms of “Energy Stored
on Invested” of any storage
system examined, but also
provides a number of ancillary benefts that make it an
attractive means of capturing
This agreeable operational profle has already seen a
number of pumped storage
installations being upgraded
to variable speed, such as the
485-MW Le Cheylas plant in
France, and there remain further opportunities in Europe
It’s certainly wrong to suggest that hydropower development presents nothing
but opportunity, realising
its incredible global potential means surmounting some
major challenges. Nonetheless, these broad trends suggest that, sustainably developed, hydropower’s innate
opportunities for clean energy
and water management, grid
stability and storage mean
that its recent period of signifcant growth will continue
into 2014 and beyond. à