Hydropower, Project Development

British Government Opens Floodgates for Hydropower

The British government will promote the use of hydroelectric generation through a number of new regulatory measures.

PITLOCHRY, Scotland, UK, 2001-07-30 [SolarAccess.com] The British government will promote the use of hydroelectric generation through a number of new regulatory measures. Changes will “give hydro its biggest boost in 50 years,” according to energy minister Brian Wilson. Under the changes, the size of refurbished hydroelectric power stations that can receive support under the Renewables Obligation will increase to 20 MW from 10 MW and will also include all newly-built hydroelectric power stations in the country. The Renewables Obligation will put a requirement on electricity suppliers to supply a percentage of their total supplies from renewable sources, rising to 10 percent by 2010. Any new hydro stations would require the consent of government for stations with than 1 MW capacity in Scotland, and for facilities over 50 MW in England and Wales. Local planning permission would also be required. The measures will broaden the scope for research and development to include environmental protection for hydro projects. The measures should result in the refurbishment of approximately 30 hydropower stations, which would generate 200 GWh, equivalent to 70 wind turbines, company investment of £250 million and create substantial employment, according to government forecasts. “Refurbished hydroelectric powerplants are roughly 10 percent more energy efficient,” says Wilson. “These new measures will wash away the cobwebs on old hydroelectric powerplants.” “The government is expected to create a £1 billion market for renewable energy by 2010,” he adds. “The main driver for this will be the renewables obligation and so it is crucial that this mechanism encompasses hydroelectric power.” “The government is investing over £260 million or US$364 million into green energy over the next three years,” he says. “It has set a target of increasing the UK’s total electricity from renewable resources from around 2.8 percent in 1999 to a target of 10 percent by 2010.” Hydroelectric power accounts for about half of the renewable electricity currently generated in Britain.