Hydropower and Geothermal Growth Slows

Evan Musolino | Feb 12, 2013

Although hydropower and geothermal power are in very different stages of development, the market for these forms of electricity generation is increasing. These two sources are not subject to the variability that plagues wind and solar energy. Their greater reliability can thus be harnessed to provide baseload power.1

Hydropower is the older and more mature of the two technologies. Global consumption and installed capacity of hydropower continued to increase in 2011, reaching 3,498 terawatt-hours (TWh) and 970 gigawatts (GW) respectively.2 Total consumption has now increased each year between 2003 and 2011.(See Figure 1.) But in 2011 the growth rate slowed, registering only a 1.6 percent increase from the previous year.4

Hydropower and Geothermal Figure 1

Among members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, hydroelectricity accounted for 5.7 percent of primary energy consumption.5 It played a more important role in other countries, at 7.1 percent of usage, and these nations accounted for 60.2 percent of worldwide hydroelectricity consumption.6 On a regional basis, South America and Central America are most dependent on hydroelectricity relative to total energy use.7

The Worldwatch Institute is an independent research organization known around the world for its accessible, fact-based analysis of critical global issues. Learn More