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Asia, and the use of hydropower


Asia boasts some of the world’s largest hydropower plants, with China leading the way by contributing more than half of the global hydropower capacity. This renewable energy source has multiple benefits, including reducing carbon emissions and providing a dependable source of power to meet the rising energy demands of Asia’s rapidly developing economies. In this article, we’ll explore fascinating facts about hydropower in Asia and how it’s playing a crucial role in meeting the region’s energy needs. As you read through this informative post, you’ll discover the potential and advantages of hydropower and how it’s helping to build a cleaner and more sustainable future for Asia.


What is hydropower?

Hydropower, a renewable energy source that converts the kinetic energy of flowing water into electricity, relies on turbines and generators to accomplish this task. Hydropower has a long history, having been utilized for centuries to power mills and pumps, and now serves as a significant source of electricity generation, accounting for approximately 16% of global energy production. With Asia boasting nearly 60% of the world’s hydropower capacity, it has become a vital component in meeting the region’s surging energy demands. As you delve further into the topic, you’ll explore the history and mechanics of hydropower and its crucial role in building a more sustainable future for Asia.

There are two main types of hydropower plants: impoundment and diversion. Impoundment plants use dams to store water in reservoirs, which can then be released through turbines to generate electricity. Diversion plants divert a portion of a river’s flow through a canal or penstock (a pipeline that carries water under pressure) to spin turbines and produce electricity.

Both types of hydropower plants have their advantages and disadvantages. Impoundment plants are typically larger and more expensive to build than diversion plants, but they can provide a steadier supply of electricity because water can be stored in the reservoir and released when needed. Diversion plants are smaller and less expensive to build, but they are subject to seasonal changes in river flow and can be impacted by drought conditions.

In addition to generating electricity, hydropower plants also provide other benefits, such as flood control.

How is hydropower used in Asia?

Just as the other continents Asia also uses hydropower for purposes like irrigation, flood control, and electricity generation. When it comes to China, hydropower provides about 19 percent of the country’s electricity; in India, it provides about 7 percent.

Other countries in Asia that use hydropower to generate electricity include Vietnam (5 percent), Laos (4 percent), and Nepal (3 percent). Indonesia, Malaysia, and Myanmar also have hydroelectric power plants.


What are the main countries in Asia that use hydropower?

Many countries in Asia use hydropower, but the three main countries are China, India, and Japan.

China is the world’s largest producer of hydropower, with an installed capacity of almost 300 gigawatts (GW). More than 60% of China’s electricity comes from hydropower, and the country has plans to increase its capacity to 350 GW by 2020.

India is the world’s second-largest producer of hydropower, with an installed capacity of 100 GW. Hydropower provides around 15% of India’s electricity. The country has plans to increase its capacity to 175 GW by 2022.

Japan is the world’s third-largest producer of hydropower, with an installed capacity of 50 GW. Hydropower provides around 10% of Japan’s electricity.

As China and India are referred to as the main countries using hydropower in Asia let us explore further the too,

Hydropower in China

As the most populous country in the world, it’s no surprise that China is also a leading producer of hydropower. China is the global leader in hydropower generation, Almost one-fifth of the world’s total hydropower production is done by China which has made it come to one of the global leading countries, in the hydropower usage.

Even though hydroelectricity has been used in China for centuries, large scale projects were not developed until the early 20th century. The Zipingpu Dam on the Yangtze River completed in the year 2005 is considered the 1st major dam. Since then, China has built an extensive hydropower infrastructure, with over 2,000 dams currently in operation.

China’s hydropower industry has experienced rapid growth in recent years. Between 2010 and 2015, installed capacity grew by an average of 12% per year. This expansion is expected to continue, with plans to add another 160 gigawatts (GW) of capacity by 2030.

The majority of China’s hydropower plants are located in the southwest of the country, where rivers such as the Yangtze, Mekong, and Salween provide an abundant source of water. These rivers also flow through some of China’s poorest and most remote regions, making hydropower an important source of energy for these areas.

China is committed to increasing its use of renewable energy sources like hydropower as part of its efforts to combat climate change. In addition to reducing carbon emissions, hydropower plays an important role in regulating water supplies and


Hydropower in India

Hydropower is the largest source of renewable electricity in India, accounting for 22% of the country’s total installed capacity.

As of March 2018, India had 45 GW of installed hydropower capacity. The Indian government has set a target to increase hydropower generation to 175 GW by 2022.

Hydropower development in India began in the late 19th century with the commissioning of the Darjeeling powerhouse in 1897. Since then, hydropower has played an important role in meeting the growing energy needs of the country.

India has vast potential for further hydropower development, with an estimated resource potential of 1,500 GW.  However, only a fraction of this potential has been exploited so far due to various challenges such as land availability, environmental concerns, and others.

Uses and benefits of hydropower in Asia

In addition to generating electricity, hydropower can also be used for other purposes such as irrigation, navigation, and flood control.

Hydropower is a clean source of energy that does not emit greenhouse gases or other pollutants. It is also a versatile source of energy that can be used to meet changing energy demands.

The use of hydropower in Asia has grown in recent years as the region looks for ways to diversify its energy mix and meet growing energy demand. China, India, and Japan are among the countries in Asia that have turned to hydropower to help meet their energy needs.

China is the world’s leading producer of hydropower, accounting for almost half of the world’s total hydropower generation in 2015. India is the second-largest producer of hydropower in the world, with an installed capacity of nearly 45 gigawatts (GW). Japan ranks third in terms of installed hydropower capacity, with more than 25 GW.

The benefits of hydropower include its affordability, reliability, and sustainability. Hydropower is typically less expensive than other forms of generation, such as coal-fired power plants. In addition, hydropower plants have long lifespans and require little maintenance, making them a reliable source of energy.

Hydropower is also a renewable source of energy, meaning that it can be replenished through the natural water cycle. This makes hydropower a sustainable option for countries looking to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels.

How can Asia improve its hydropower infrastructure?

Even though the Asian continent is rich in hydropower usage There are many ways in which Asia can improve its hydropower infrastructure.
One of the ways is by increasing the number of reservoirs. This will allow for more water to be stored during the wet season and released during the dry season while providing a steadier supply of water for hydropower plants. Another way to improve hydropower infrastructure is by increasing the number of dams and weirs. This will help to regulate the flow of water and prevent floods. Finally, Asia can also improve its hydropower infrastructure by investing in better pumps and turbines. This will increase the efficiency of hydropower plants and make them more cost-effective.


In conclusion, hydropower has played a significant role in Asia’s energy mix, and its potential for growth remains enormous. As a renewable source of energy, it provides a sustainable solution to the region’s energy needs, while also reducing carbon emissions. However, the development of hydropower in Asia is not without its challenges, from environmental concerns to political issues. Nevertheless, with advancements in technology and innovative approaches to development, Asia’s hydropower sector is poised for continued growth.

Importance of hydropower in Asia, one cannot help but make a pun about the “current” state of affairs. While it may be true that Asia’s energy sector faces some “rough waters” ahead, hydropower remains a beacon of hope, offering a “stream” of sustainable energy that can power the region’s future. Our blog encourages everyone to “dive in” and learn more about this vital source of energy and how it can help propel Asia towards a greener and more sustainable future.

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