Can renewable energy power the world?
Can renewable energy power the world?

This free course is available to start right now. Review the full course description and key learning outcomes and create an account and enrol if you want a free statement of participation.

Free course

Can renewable energy power the world?

5.2.1 Regional hydro resources

Looking at the first four columns of Table 1 below shows the estimated total hydro resource and technical potential for different regions of the world, together with their percentage share of the technical potential, with the total here mainly based on national data, which may include small-scale hydro plants.

Table 1 Regional and world hydro potential and output, 2009

Resources Output
Region Total resource/TWh y-1 Technical potential/TWh y-1 % of world technical potential Installed capacity/GW Annual output/TWH y-1 Percentage of world total output
North America 5500 2420 15% 168 670 21%
South America 7500 2840 18% 132 730 22%
Europe 4900 2760 17% 221 730 23%
Middle East 690 280 1.7% 22 11 <1%
Africa 3900 1890 12% 22 97 3%
Asia 16600 5590 35% 307 980 30%
Oceania 700 230 1.5% 13 36 1%
World 39800 16000 874 3272

Some sources suggest that world total capacity, including small-scale hydro is close to 1000 GW (source: WEC, 2010a; BP, 2010), around one-fifth of the technical potential, suggesting that a fourfold increase in output might be possible in future, but this is by no means the case for individual regions.

Hydro resources on a national level are examined next.

RENC_1

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has over 40 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to university level study, find out more about the types of qualifications we offer, including our entry level Access courses and Certificates.

Not ready for University study then browse over 900 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus