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Back to the future: Improving the efficiency of our hydropower network

Author : Marek Lukaszczyk, European and Middle East Marketing Manager

02 November 2020

Hydropower is an extremely old source of energy, tracing its usage back to the watermills on which ancient civilians relied. Here, Marek Lukaszczyk, European and Middle East Marketing Manager at WEG, explains how plant managers can make today’s hydropower smarter and reap financial and carbon savings by embracing energy-efficient products and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technology.

Hydroelectricity remains an attractive renewable energy source, especially in Europe which has a large network of hydropower plants. According to the International Energy Agency, the global installed hydropower capacity in 2019 was 1307GW. China, India and Brazil are expected to lead the growth in new hydropower facilities over the next five years, but many European countries already have a vast network of established hydropower facilities.

For example, the UK has a total hydropower installed capacity of over 4,600MW, including 2,744MW of pumped storage. As the fourth largest source of renewable energy, as well as the most reliable, efficient and hardy, it certainly has an important part to play.

Most of the UK’s hydropower infrastructure was constructed in the 20th century – before modern environmental codes or energy-efficiency recommendations came into force. Therefore, the industry focus has shifted from adding to the current capacity, to increasing the efficiency and lifespan of the existing ageing network. This will lead to more flexibility on the power grid, which is crucial, considering the increasing amounts of renewables being integrated into the electricity system.

So, what practical and cost-effective upgrades can hydropower plants make to support the UK’s effort to become a net zero economy by 2050?

Read the full article in the November issue of DPA



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