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Where Is Hydroelectricity Used?

Hydroelectricity is used by many countries across the globe to provide a source of clean and renewable power at low cost. You may come to ask yourself the question “where is hydroelectricity used?” and if so, we hope this article will be of use in identifying the countries that use this power source.

In this article we’ll take a look at where hydroelectricity is most been used. The data we used has been taken from BP’s world energy review of 2014 which provides global energy consumption information for the year 2013. The data is based on gross primary hydroelectric generation and does not account for cross-border electricity supply where a country may purchase energy that has been produced from hydropower from another country.

Hydroelectricity Use By Country

In this section we’ll take a look at the use of hydroelectricity at country level. From the table below we can clearly see that hydroelectricity is used the most in China with Canada in second and Brazil hot on their heels in third.

Table 1: Hydropower capacity by country as at 2013.
RankCountryTerawatt-hours (TWh)
1China911.6
2Canada391.6
3Brazil385.4
4US271.9
5Russian Federation181.2
6India131.9
7Norway129.0
8Other Europe & Eurasia101.6
9Other Africa99.5
10Other S. & Cent. America92.6
11Venezuela83.8
12Japan82.2
13France68.4
14Sweden61.4
15Turkey59.3
16Other Asia Pacific56.5
17Vietnam54.1
18Italy51.5
19Colombia44.4
20Argentina40.7
21Switzerland37.8
22Austria37.1
23Spain36.8
24Pakistan32.8
25Mexico27.4
26New Zealand23.0
27Peru21.1
28Germany20.5
29Australia20.1
30Chile19.5
31Indonesia15.7
32Romania15.1
33Iran14.9
34Ukraine13.9
35Portugal13.5
36Egypt12.9
37Finland12.8
38Uzbekistan11.4
39Ecuador11.0
40Other Middle East10.3
41Philippines9.6
42Malaysia9.3
43Kazakhstan8.1
44Greece6.4
45South Korea5.9
46Thailand5.6
47Taiwan5.2
48Slovakia5.1
49United Kingdom4.7
50Bulgaria4.1
51Czech Republic3.8
52Poland2.4
53Azerbaijan1.5
54South Africa1.1
55Bangladesh0.9
56Republic of Ireland0.6
57Lithuania0.5
58Belgium0.4
59Hungary0.2
60Netherlands0.1
61Algeria0.1
62Belarus0.1
63Israel<0.05
64Denmark<0.05
65Turkmenistan<0.05
66Trinidad & Tobago0
67Kuwait0
68Qatar0
69Saudi Arabia0
70United Arab Emirates0
71China Hong Kong SAR0
72Singapore0

China is way out in front generating more than double the amount of hydropower as second place Canada. The giant project that is the Three Gorges Dam produces just over 10% of China’s hydropower and if this were to be their only hydroelectric facility then China would still be able to reach 10th place as the dam produces around 98.1 TWh of electricity each year. With many more ambitious projects in the pipeline, China are set to remain in first position for many years to come.

Canada just creeps into second place with Brazil following closely behind. Brazil are expected to overtake Canada to reach second place in the coming years as new hydroelectric facilities come on line. The United States, world-famous for their Hoover Dam which opened in 1936, are in fourth and produced an estimated 271.9 TWh of hydroelectricity in 2013. The Russian Federation follow closely in fifth place with 181.2 TWh.

We can see from the data that many other countries generated significant quantities of hydroelectricity during 2013. Norway for example generated 129 TWh of hydroelectricity which equates to the majority of Norway’s national energy requirement.

Hydroelectricity Use By Continent

This section looks at the use of hydroelectricity at continent/region level. From the table below we can clearly see that the Asia Pacific region leads the way in hydroelectricity generation. What may surprise you however is that Europe and Eurasia are well ahead in second place when compared to South & Central America who are battling it out with North America for third place.

Unsurprisingly, Africa and the Middle East are in fifth and sixth place respectively. This can be attributed to both the climate and economic development of these regions.

Table 2: Hydropower capacity by continent as at 2013.
RankContinentTerawatt-hours (TWh)
1Asia Pacific1364.3
2Europe & Eurasia889.5
3South & Central America698.5
4North America690.9
5Africa113.6
6Middle East25.2

Roundup

So there we have some interesting statistics on the use of hydroelectricity around the world. Globally, an estimated 3782 TWh of hydroelectricity was  generated in 2013 with China, Canada and Brazil leading the way in terms of capacity. The Asia Pacific region leads the way in terms of generating capacity with China contributing to much of this. Even without the help of the other countries included in the Asia Pacific region, China’s hydropower capacity alone would have kept the region in first place.

Further Information

If you’d like further information on the use of hydroelectricity around the world then the below resources may be of use to you.

BP Statistical Review – The latest statistical review of world energy supplies is available from the BP website and makes an interesting read.