Facts and Figures on
Hydroeleectric Energy

Hydropower supplies about 20% of the world’s electricity, a share that has remained stable since the 1990s.

According to the International Energy Agency, electricity generation from hydropower and other renewable energy sources is projected to increase at an average annual rate of 1.7% from 2004 to 2030, for an overall increase of 60% through 2030.

  • World-wide, about 20% of all electricity is generated by hydropower.
  • The world's largest hydroelectric plant in terms of installed capacity is Three Gorges (Sanxia) on China's Yangtze River, which is 2.3 kms long and 185 m high.
  • Norway produces more than 99% of its electricity with hydropower. New Zealand uses hydropower for 75% of its electricity.
  • The Itaipu plant located on the Paraná River between Brazil and Paraguay produces the largest amount of electricity in the world.
  • Once a dam has been built and the equipment installed, the energy source—flowing water—is free. It's a clean fuel source renewed by snow and rainfall.
  • On average, a kilo watt hour (KWH) of electricity costs less than a cent to produce from a hydro dam.
  • The Three Gorges Dam displaced an estimated 1.2 million people and flooded hundreds of villages.
  • Dams can destroy habitats for animals, but especially aquatic animals, disrupting habitat and breading paths and grounds.
  • Reservoirs formed by hydroelectric dams provide many water-based recreational opportunities including fishing, water sports, boating, parks, and water fowl hunting.

MORE: Fast facts about hydropower
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Contact: Hari Srinivas - hsrinivas@gdrc.org