World small Hydropower Development Knowledge Platform

New report highlights the significance of small hydropower to sustainable industrial development

HANGZHOU, China, 1 November 2016 - The development of small hydropower (SHP) across the globe, and the importance and advantages of SHP as a solution to rural electrification and inclusive sustainable industrial development, are the focus of the World Small Hydropower Development Report 2016, which was launched today during the seventh Hydro Power for Today Forum in Hangzhou, China. 

The Report, co-published by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the UNIDO-supported International Center on Small Hydro Power (ICSHP), comprises 160 national reports and 20 regional reports, with 11 new countries added to it compared to the previous edition published in 2013. More than 230 experts and scholars from related governmental institutions, research institutes, universities and colleges, as well as hydropower companies contributed to the preparation of the Report. 

The Report indicates that globally installed SHP capacity has had an increase of approximately 4 per cent since 2013, estimated at 78 GW in 2016, and that the total estimated SHP potential has increased to 217 GW, representing an increase of over 24 per cent. Overall, approximately 36 per cent of the total global SHP potential has been developed as of 2016. 

Despite the improvement, the Report also emphasizes the underestimated potential of SHP and the room for a wider dissemination. South America, for example, possesses the second-highest level of undeveloped potential in the world yet, with the exception of Brazil, has so far not developed any significant portion of it due to barriers such as negative perceptions on hydropower among local populations and financial resource constraints. 

The potential of SHP is particularly underestimated when compared to other small-scale renewable energies. For example, many countries focus on wind and solar potential through fiscal incentives, which have however become a barrier for SHP development since those incentives usually are not extended to SHP.

Speaking at the launch ceremony, CHEN Lei, Minister of Water Resources of China and Honorary Chairman of the International Network on Small Hydro Power (INSHP), said: “Hydropower is an internationally recognized source of clean and green energy, which has played an important role for the global energy supply. It has greatly contributed to solving the problem of rural electrification, improving living standards and production conditions, promoting rural economic development, alleviating poverty and reducing emissions.”

“As the host country of INSHP and ICSHP, China always stands ready to share the successful experience of the Chinese small hydropower industry with other countries and regions, and to promote the development of small hydropower worldwide,” Chen added.

 “Small hydropower is an excellent renewable energy solution to meet the needs of productive uses and to electrify rural areas.  UNIDO, along with partners, will continue its mission to inform world leaders on the status and potential of small hydropower development, and encourage stakeholders in the sector to share and disseminate this knowledge through this report,” said UNIDO’s Managing Director of Programme for Technical Cooperation, Philippe Scholtes. 

The Report concludes that SHP is a mature and versatile technology, effective for increasing access to clean and sustainable electricity in the developing world, particularly in rural communities. Through developing SHP, many countries have already taken steps - or are beginning to take steps - to alleviate poverty and increase access to electricity, both of which are key elements in the Sustainable Development Goals and the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) programmes.


For more information, please contact:

Rana Pratap Singh
UNIDO Industrial Development Officer
[email protected]