Survey of Energy Resources 2007
Hydropower Country Notes
While the overall amount of installed hydro-electric capacity is extremely modest, opportunities for development do exist, especially in the small-hydro sector (defined in this context as plants up to 5 MW). Hydropower & Dams World Atlas 2006 quotes the technically feasible potential for small hydro so defined as 4 577 GWh/yr, with the economically feasible potential for undeveloped sites as 1 100 GWh/yr.
The British Hydropower Association, as quoted by the United Kingdom WEC Member Committee, believes that there is the potential to double, or possibly triple, existing capacity, i.e. an additional generating capacity of 1 300-2 600 MW. Some 300-500 MW would be in large hydropower plants, with the balance in small, mostly run-of-river, plants. There are many former water-mill sites and utility and river structures that offer potential for small hydro developments.
A possible pointer to future developments lies in the fact that construction work has started on the 100 MW Glendoe scheme in Scotland - the first sizeable conventional hydro plant to be built in the UK for almost fifty years.
The Renewables Obligation requires licensed electricity suppliers to source a specific and annually increasing percentage of the electricity they supply from renewable sources. The current target is 6.7% for 2006/07 rising to 15.4% by 2015/16. Eligible sources include new hydro and refurbished hydro (up to 20 MW).