Hydropower is the world’s largest source of renewable energy, accounting for a fifth of global electricity. Harnessing water responsibly can help get electricity to millions of people, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia where lack of access to power is most acute.
The historic Paris agreement last year committed the world to an ambitious target to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C. In this context, it is important that the world continue to increase investments in renewable sources of energy, including hydropower, The World Bank Group (WBG) is ready and able to help countries to do this.
While hydropower development offers great opportunities, it also comes with complex challenges and risks that vary significantly by the type, place, and scale of projects. Factors such as resettlement of communities, flooding of large areas of land, and significant changes to river ecosystems must be carefully considered and mitigated. While it is known that reservoirs emit greenhouse gases (GHGs), their net emissions, on average, are much lower than those from fossil fuel based sources of electricity. Today, hydropower reduces annual global emissions by some 2.8 billion tons of CO2 equivalent every year. The WBG will continue to support well-designed and implemented hydropower projects of all sizes for both local development and climate mitigation reasons.
A number of the world’s most electricity-poor countries also have some of the least exploited hydropower potential, and hydropower represents the most economically viable, large scale source of energy for their development – particularly in Sub Saharan Africa. For this reason, nine of the 15 energy projects prioritized by African governments within the 2012-2020 Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa are investments in hydropower.
New and rehabilitated hydropower generation capacity that will be provided by WBG-supported hydropower projects, approved between 2002 and 2014, will avoid approximately 1.1 billion metric tons of cumulative GHG emissions over the economic life of the projects.
Last Updated: Sep 22, 2016