Hydropower and marine energy

In Germany, hydroelectric power plants have served as a reliable and predictable power source for over 100 years. The plants require suitable sites which combine large water volumes with a sufficient gradient. The majority of these locations has already been developed and is in commercial use. Around 80 per cent of Germany’s hydroelectric power plants are so-called run-of-river power plants which use natural geographic gradients in rivers to generate electricity. The largest number of these plants is located in southern Germany. One fifth of the hydroelectric plants are operated as storage power plants which use water from reservoirs to generate electricity. The share of hydropower in total German power generation amounted to around 3 per cent - a small but reliable element of renewable energy generation. The latter can be used to balance out fluctuations in the electricity grid.

Researchers are currently working on modernisation measures to increase output at existing plants. For instance, new more powerful turbines are being installed. On top of this, the projects can contribute towards efficient use of water wheels in conditions of lower gradients and medium flow speeds. In the long run, this will help develop new sites.

Opportunities to use ocean power to generate electricity, for instance in the form of wave energy, are relatively small in Germany’s coastal areas. Compared to the Atlantic for example, the North and Baltic Seas have low wave heights, low tidal ranges and insufficient ocean currents. Research and development therefore concentrates on potential exports of respective systems. Hence, advancements in systems engineering, which are done on a commercial scale, focus on robust components that are suitable for ocean energy use under rough conditions.

Hydropower in international comparison

While in Germany the share of hydropower amounted to around 3 per cent in 2017, increasing volumes of electricity are being generated from hydropower worldwide. Figures from the year 2016 show that globally, the share of hydropower had already reached 16.6 per cent of total power generation. China is in top position, followed by the USA, Brazil and Canada. Norway generates close to 100 per cent of its electricity from hydropower, placing the country among the top ten.

Hydropower in international comparison

While in Germany the share of hydropower amounted to around 3 per cent in 2017, increasing volumes of electricity are being generated from hydropower worldwide. Figures from the year 2016 show that globally, the share of hydropower had already reached 16.6 per cent of total power generation. China is in top position, followed by the USA, Brazil and Canada. Norway generates close to 100 per cent of its electricity from hydropower, placing the country among the top ten.

Distribution of incentives and grants

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