A research published by the Worldwatch Institute revealed that 45 billion dollars have been invested in large-scale hydropower projects worldwide in 2010, while global consumption of hydroelectric energy has increased by more than 5 percent compared with 2009.
Hydropower consumption has reached the unprecedented amount of 3,427 terawatt hours, accounting for about 16.1 percent of the world's electricity demand, thus confirming the growth rate that took place between 2003 and 2009.
This constant growth is due to reasons that include its relatively low cost and greater flexibility compared with other renewable sources. Its generation can also be more easily planned, compared with other discontinuous sources like wind and solar photovoltaic power, and can therefore more rapidly adjust to the energy demand.
Furthermore, the growth of small hydro must be noted. The Enel Group is investing through Enel Green Power in this technology, which has significantly stepped up over the last ten years, and is connected with the need to provide electricity to rural communities or those that are distant from industrial centres.
Since 2009, a small hydro capacity of approximately 60 GW has been installed worldwide, and this industry is expected to grow, especially because countries with high population densities, like India, continue to make efforts in the field of rural electrification.
Additionally, small hydro is also valuable for reasons of environmental protection. Indeed, small-scale hydroelectric plants are built and organized in a way that produces a scarce impact on the area surrounding it.
Finally, these plants can be managed by small communities and they allow water to be used for various purposes in a balanced manner.