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

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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, 2015
RegionTotal resource/TWh y-1Technical potential/TWh y-1% of world technical potentialInstalled capacity/GWAnnual output/TWh y-1Percentage of technical potential used
North America5500242015%16868028%
South America7500284018%13268924%
Middle East6902801.7%22217%

Some sources suggest that world total capacity, including small-scale hydro is close to 1000 GW (source: WEC, 2010a; (British Petroleum, 2017)), 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.