British Hydropower Association - bha logo
Greater awareness of the potential damage to the planet from global warming has lead governments and multinational organisations to take measures to mitigate the impacts of human activity on the climate. With little or no CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions and high energy payback, hydropower supports clean development and is recognised as being fully renewable and sustainable.

Hydropower in the UK
Some useful facts

  • Hydropower is a flexible technology, improved and refined over many years.
  • Its site specific features make it highly innovatory in application which makes use of a wide range of resource available, large or small hydro, pumped storage or run-of river, tidal range, canals or even water treatment works.
  • The first water turbines were built in the mid 1800’s and they have been developing ever since.
  • Turbine efficiencies are rarely below 80% which is about double that of a steam turbine.
  • There is currently an installed capacity of 1676 MW generating over 5000 GW/year.
  • There is in addition, a further 2860 MW capacity of existing pumped storage.
  • The cost per kW of clean energy is the lowest of all renewable technologies over the full lifetime of the scheme.
  • There are 7,400 [BIS 2015] people directly employed in the UK hydropower industry.
  • Hydropower currently produces around 20% of the world’s electricity and 90% of the world’s renewable power.
  • Recent resource studies have indicated that there is a practical potential for a further 2GW of capacity in the UK.
  • At present 30% to 40% of the UK’s renewable generation is provided by hydropower, whilst globally, 17% of energy is supplied – and will continue to be supplied – from hydropower sources.
  • Hydropower offers long term generation beyond the subsidy period and hydropower schemes have an 80-year life compared to 25 years for wind, solar PV and AD; 35 years for nuclear.
  • On average 70% of the cost of a new UK hydropower scheme is in civil construction which is procured locally. The majority of new small schemes are in remote rural areas, providing valuable energy and income in a way which is environmentally sensitive, and has strong community support and involvement.
  • Hydropower is an important and valuable contributor to the UK renewables mix and to achieving the UK’s low carbon targets.
  • Hydropower offers a unique and attractive combination of low lifetime cost and a local/UK based supply chain.
Hydropower is a flexible technology, proven, improved and refined over many years, yet its site-specific features make it highly innovatory in application, which makes use of a wide range of available resource – large or small, storage or run-of-river, and including tidal range, canals and even water treatment works. Over 150 years ago it revolutionised electricity generation in the UK and it is still one of the most inexpensive ways to generate power, playing an important role in our electricity system stability.

Our Sponsoring Members

British Hydropower Association – Representing the interests of the UK hydropower industry