Harnessing the power of water could help the UK achieve net zero targets, power millions of homes and reduce dependency on fossil fuels, experts claim. But, as the cost of living crisis deepens, should the UK invest in hydropower? Vote in our poll.
Hydropower is generated from the flow of water downhill, and movement powers turbines to generate power. Dams are built to store river water in reservoirs and can be pumped around the hydrosystem as demand requires.
The UK currently has four pumped storage projects located in the wet and mountainous regions of Scotland and Wales. Plans are also underway to install another hydroelectric power station in the Yorkshire Dales.
It is estimated that the UK requires at least 80 percent of its energy to be generated from renewable sources in order to achieve net zero. Experts claim that investment in hydropower could provide an affordable solution.
Speaking to Express.co.uk last week, Pascal Radue, CEO and President of Hydro Solutions and General Electric said: “Fundamentally, hydropower today is already now the biggest renewable energy resource that we have on the planet.”
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He claimed that due to the pump storage within hydropower systems it is a viable option, explaining: “with the arrival of wind and solar, which are intermittent by nature, the role of pump storage has increased significantly in hydropower”.
Mr Radue added: “Fundamentally, you can easily power the world today, with solar, wind, hydro and pump storage. I think hydropower is super viable for pumped storage.”
He explained that repowering existing plants with new turbines and generators increases efficiency at a lower cost: “Hydro is quite wide-ranging, you can go from small generation to large hydro dams that generate power for millions of households.
“Repowering of these existing plants is a lot cheaper than building a new hydro facility because you don’t need to build a dam or all the infrastructure is there. The only thing you need to change is the tiny thing which is the turbine and the generator, which is relatively quick and cheap to do.”
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Executive Director of the International Energy Association, Fatih Birol, said: “Hydropower is the forgotten giant of clean electricity, and it needs to be put squarely back on the energy and climate agenda if countries are serious about meeting their net zero goals.”
In 2019 hydropower made up 16 percent of the world’s energy – making it the leading renewable energy source due to its affordability and flexibility.
However, hydropower generated just five percent of the UK’s renewable energy in 2020, with 1.2 gigawatt (GW) of installed capacity compared to 24.4 GW for wind and 13.2 GW for solar.
So what do YOU think? Should UK invest in hydropower? Vote in our poll and join the debate in the comment section below.