Analysis of Potential Impact of COVID-19 on Small Hydropower Market

Small Hydropower Market

Rising Demand for Sustainable Energy to Boost Market Growth

On the basis of the scale of the project, hydropower projects are typically classified into large and small hydropower projects. Although the criteria are likely to vary in different regions of the world, hydro projects with a capacity ranging from 10 MW to 50 MW are considered to be small hydropower projects. Due to increasing environmental concerns and demand for sustainable energy production, governments across the world are primarily focusing on increasing investments toward the development of sustainable energy generation projects. In addition, governments in both developed as well developing regions are encouraging small hydropower projects by offering lucrative incentives and project renewal plans– a factor that is expected to aid the growth of the global small hydropower market during the forecast period.

At present, stakeholders operating in the current small hydropower market landscape are highly inclined toward investing in mitigation and research projects to minimize the negative environmental effects of damns on the river flow, fish habitat, and quality of water. In addition, the favorable financial framework is enabling more number of private sector companies to participate in the renewable energy production ecosystem– another factor that is expected to bolster the growth of the global small hydropower market during the assessment period.

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Small Hydropower Plants Gain Popularity as Large-scale Projects Continue to Attract Criticism

One of the primary factors that are likely to shape the overall development of the global small hydropower market is climate change. In addition, advancements in technology are also likely to have a strong influence on the overall adoption of small hydropower systems in the upcoming years. Over the past few decades, the environmental damage and social displacement linked with large-scale hydropower projects is a major cause of concern due to which, small hydropower projects have garnered considerable attention. For instance, the development of the Three Gorges dam in China caused the displacement of 1.5 million people and led to the submersion of multiple factories, waste dumps, and mines. Similarly, large-scale hydropower projects in Brazil, Turkey, and Ethiopia, among others, have received opposition for displacing a large number of people.

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Although the global push for renewable energy production continues to shift gears at a rapid pace, players operating in the current small hydropower market are seeking innovative ways to minimize the impact of hydropower projects on the surrounding environment. Due to the negative impact on the surrounding environment, governments are also exploring the potential of hydropower to shift from large-scale dams toward the more natural approach leveraging the natural flow of rivers. At present, run-of-the-river plants are gaining considerable traction and the trend is likely to continue during the assessment period. Novel technologies, including the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) are likely to provide a boost to the hydropower industry in the upcoming years. Stakeholders operating in the current small hydropower market landscape are of the opinion that the digitalization of hydropower could play a key role in minimizing carbon emissions and increase the overall output– saving operational and overhead costs. The tectonic shift toward implementing new technologies is likely to pave the way for smarter and efficient small hydropower plants in the future due to which, the demand for small hydropower is moving in the upward trajectory.

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Project Completion and Maintenance Deadlines to Extend amid COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to have a strong impact on the overall growth of the global small hydropower market, especially in 2024. Due to stringent lockdown measures imposed by governments in the second quarter of 2024, the transportation of raw materials and components was largely affected. The repair and maintenance of existing projects and the construction of new projects are expected to witness delays due to the COVID-19 situation. In addition, investments toward small hydropower projects are likely to take a hit in 2024, due to the uncertainty of the market and fluctuating global economy and prices of raw materials. While the demand for sustainable energy is expected to remain high worldwide in the upcoming years, the global small hydropower market is expected to show signs of recovery toward the last two quarters of 2024, as governments continue to lift the lockdown restrictions.

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