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Small Hydropower Market Analysis

One notable driver of small hydropower is the low generation cost compared to other off-grid renewable technologies. This information comes from a deeper analysis that Transparency Market Research published in a new report titled, Small Hydropower Market, by Installed Capacity – Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth Trends, and Forecast, 2015 — 2023.

The report explains that the global small hydropower market installed capacity stood at 110.77 GW in 2014, and that’s expected to reach 146.65 GW by 2023 at a CAGR of 2.85% from 2015 to 2023 (not the growth we’re used to seeing in the wind and solar markets). As well, the high-level analysis furnishes a comprehensive view of the small hydropower business globally. A sample of the report can be viewed here.

Screen Shot 2015-11-26 at 2.45.10 PM (4) (2)


Small hydropower (SHP) provides an emission-free renewable source of electricity, as with solar power and wind energy. SHP can be used off the grid or on the grid. The establishment of small hydro is often built using existing dams. It is sometimes constructed within the flow of the river, known as run of river. Perfect for areas where there is no electric infrastructure, SHP systems consist of transformers, generators, turbines, and reservoirs. No harmful gasses, carbon dioxide, and other pollutants.

press release highlights some of the findings, pointing out that SHP has no international denomination, and so its upper limit varies from country to country. “In Canada it ranges up to 50 MW and in Brazil it ranges up to 30 MW; however, 10 MW total capacity is accepted worldwide. Capacity utilization and plant load factor for small hydropower plants are high when compared to other renewable sources of energy.”

The report breaks the small hydropower market into five regions: North America, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Middle East and Africa, and South and Central America.

  • Asia Pacific shows as the largest market for small hydropower — 70.3% of the global market in 2014. China (which offers tax credits for SHP) is the forerunner. After China, India and Japan move into the next leadership positions.
  • The second-largest market for SHP in 2014 is Europe, with Italy as the leader there. Italy shows comprehensive policies and substantial funding for market development.
  • North America comes in third. Predictably, the US and Canada are the leading countries in this market.

The research finds significant leaders in the small hydropower market include Voith GmbH, ANDRITZ HYDRO GmbH, Alstom S.A., BC Hydro, and StatKraft AS.

Some related research mentioned in an earlier CleanTechnica post, “Small-Scale Hydroelectric Can Help To Regenerate ‘Deprived’ Rural Areas,” focused more on the economic/job creation benefits of small hydropower. The job creation arrives mostly from “the fact that micro-hydroelectric (another name for small hydro) is an embedded technology relying on local know-how and materials (rather than one relying on large amounts of imported expertise, as with larger projects).”

Enjoy a bit of history of simple water-powered mills in the US and think of constructing one yourself:

Related: Massachusetts Considering Net Metering For Small Hydropower Projects Over 60 kW


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Written By

Cynthia Shahan started writing after previously doing research and publishing work on natural birth practices. (Several unrelated publications) She is a licensed health care provider. She studied and practiced both Waldorf education, and Montessori education, mother of four unconditionally loving spirits, teachers, and environmentally conscious beings born with spiritual insights and ethics beyond this world. (She was able to advance more in this way led by her children.)


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