The Future Of Hydropower Generation: Damless Power Generation To Gain Importance

Currently, hydroelectric power is the largest source of renewable energy in the U.S. Moreover, it is responsible for around 7% of the total energy production in the country. Apart from the U.S., China is the world's largest producer of hydroelectric energy, which includes the world's largest power station that produces more than 15% of the country's total energy.

Believe it or not, hydropower is now regarded as important as coal and natural gas. What's more, hydropower dams are the future of mass production of electricity. Several countries have invested billions of dollars to upgrade dams and use them for power generation. According to Allied Market Research, the global hydropower generation market is expected to reach $317.8 billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 5.9% from 2020 to 2027. The surge in demand for electricity and inclination toward clean energy have boosted the market growth.


Hydropower is by far the largest renewable energy source and is projected to become more dominant in the coming years. The innovations and government initiatives have helped hydropower generation to become prominent. Last year, China unveiled its smartest and the world's seventh-biggest mega hydropower station. China has used some advanced technologies such as real-time temperature monitoring and grouting equipment. Moreover, it has integrated technology that can automatically adjust the water flow to realize the cooling process of concrete in the most sophisticated way.

The current state of hydropower generation

Currently, hydroelectric power is the largest source of renewable energy in the U.S. Moreover, it is responsible for around 7% of the total energy production in the country. Apart from the U.S., China is the world's largest producer of hydroelectric energy, which includes the world's largest power station that produces more than 15% of the country's total energy.

However, the annual growth of hydropower generation has reduced over the past few years, due to reconsideration of other renewable sources such as wind and solar as they have fewer impacts on the environment. However, the power generation from water reservoirs is still the most economical and reliable source of energy production.

Hydropower generation- The cleanest source of energy

Hydropower is regarded as a big battery of the nation where you can store power in the form of water. Today, energy from the river is responsible for one-fifth of the world's electricity generation, and in the future, it is projected to increase. While wind and solar power are gaining importance, the cost of hydropower generation is still lower.

The growing concern of depletion of fossil fuels and their major contribution to pollution and global warming. Thus, an alternative such as hydropower plants has a favorite despite the few drawbacks that come with it. While hydropower generation is promoted as a clean way of generating electricity, it is hardly so. The hydropower generation plants affect the climate as well. Moreover, dams demand a tremendous steel and cement rock that is mined and cause local pollution during construction. The issues with biodiversity and displacement of local residents are still a concern. These sociological and ecological concerns are the prime challenges for hydropower generation.

There is no doubt that hydroelectric dams are disruptive to communities and ecosystems as it limits water supply to create larges reservoirs. In fact, it has blocked more than 55% of the spawning and rearing habitat that was available to salmon and steelhead before. Thus, researchers have been working to find a silver lining to these issues and come up with one possible solution: damless hydropower plants.

Future of hydropower generation: Damless hydropower plants

Damless hydropower plants or run-of-the-river hydropower plants generate electricity utilizing the natural flow rate of water instead of constructing huge reservoirs. As damless hydropower plants do not demand a reservoir or change the flow of the river altogether, these plants cause less ecological impact than conventional dams. However, the total power generation of damless hydropower plants is not as much as the traditional hydropower plants. The energy production of damless plants is unpredictable as it depends on the rate of speed of river flow, season, and year-to-year variation.
However, the future of conventional hydropower plants is also no longer predictable.

The climate change and shift in rainfall patterns along with chronic droughts have already affected the output of the hydropower plants. Thus, the use of damless hydropower plants presents a compelling alternative. Moreover, other sustainable technologies such as pumped storage, and new stream reach hydropower plants could eclipse the popularity of conventional way of hydropower generation. What's more, the use of the river for energy generation is expected to gain traction in the coming years.

Hydropower generation is now perceived as a potential, cost-effective, and renewable source of power. Moreover, the depleting fossil fuels have further supplemented the need for hydropower plants. Although there are a few challenges for the hydropower generation market to overcome, an increase in R&D to find a sustainable solution such as damless hydropower plants is expected to boost its widespread adoption in the near future.

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