China's massive build-up up hydropower

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The share of hydropower in several major countries is estimated to continue falling between 2019 and 2030. Globally, in the same period, the decline is estimated to be less significant due to the large scale capacity additions by Chinese companies. Most of the largest upcoming hydropower plants are either in China, or are being built by Chinese companies in other countries such as Pakistan, Congo, and Myanmar. This is a strategy China has adopted for thermal and nuclear power capacity as well, according to GlobalData, a data and analytics company.

China has the largest hydropower capacity in the world and for the past several years, the country has been making the largest annual capacity additions with over 12 GW added in 2019 alone. Chinese hydropower plants under construction have not been affected much by the COVID-19 pandemic and based on current plans, China is set to add over 140 GW hydropower capacity during 2020–2030.


During 2000–2010, the share of hydropower fell due to the rise in thermal power capacity driven by several countries’ needs to increase power capacities quickly and meet the demand created by growth of industries. During 2010–2019, the share fell further but not as much. This fall represents the growth of both thermal power and renewable power capacity. During this period, several countries pushed the growth of renewable power in order to comply with international emission reduction commitments.

As governments race to add thermal power to quickly cater to rising demand, and renewable power to reduce GHG emissions, hydro has been losing share in the power mix of several countries. In 2000, over 22% of global power capacity was hydropower. This fell to 19.7% by 2010. During 2010–2019, the share fell further but not as much. During 2020–2030, the share of hydropower in both capacity and generation is estimated to continue declining but only marginally with less than 2 percentage points fall in capacity share and less than 1 percentage point fall in generation share.