20. Hydropower

  1. Prof. Detlef Stolten2,3 and
  2. Prof. Dr.-Ing. Viktor Scherer4
  1. Ånund Killingtveit

Published Online: 21 JUN 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9783527673872.ch20

Transition to Renewable Energy Systems

Transition to Renewable Energy Systems

How to Cite

Killingtveit, Å. (2013) Hydropower, in Transition to Renewable Energy Systems (eds D. Stolten and V. Scherer), Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim, Germany. doi: 10.1002/9783527673872.ch20

Editor Information

  1. 2

    Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, IEF-3: Fuel Cells, Leo-Brandt-Straße, IEF-3: Fuel Cells, 52425 Jülich, Germany

  2. 3

    Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, IEK-3 Institut für En. & Klimaforschung, Wilhelm-Johnen-Str., 52428 Jülich, Germany

  3. 4

    Ruhr-Universität Bochum LS f. Energieanlagen, IB 3/126 Universitätsstr. 150 LS f. Energieanlagen, IB 3/126 44780 Bochum Germany

Author Information

  1. Department of Hydraulic & Environmental Engineering, S. P. Andersens veg 5, 7491 Trondheim, Norway

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 21 JUN 2013
  2. Published Print: 28 MAY 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9783527332397

Online ISBN: 9783527673872



  • hydropower;
  • hydraulic energy;
  • water


Hydropower is a renewable energy source where electrical energy is derived from the potential energy of water moving from high to lower elevation. Hydropower is a mature and widely used technology; about 160 countries in the world have developed hydropower. Hydropower is among the most efficient technologies for the production of renewable energy, with a typical efficiency of 90% or better. Hydropower is cost competitive, and is today the only renewable technology that can produce electricity at equal or lower cost than thermal energy sources such as coal, oil, and gas, typically in the range €0.03–0.05 kWh−1. Hydropower can broadly be classified into four main types: run-of-river (ROR), storage (reservoir-based), pumped storage and in-stream (hydrokinetic) technologies. Hydropower projects are always site specific, tailored for the optimal use of available head and water resources. Classification by size as “small hydro” versus “large hydro” is not a logical or useful classification parameter for hydropower. Energy from hydropower today supplies 16% of global electricity demand. It is estimated that about one-third of the economic global hydropower resources has already been developed, and that most of the remaining potential will probably be developed by 2050, increasing capacity and energy production to 2–3 times the current level.