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IEA net zero report calls for doubling of hydropower capacity by 2050

  • IEA net zero report calls for doubling of hydropower capacity by 2050
  • To successfully limit global temperature rises to 1.5°C, reducing global CO₂ emissions to net zero is essential.

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International Hydropower Association
Our mission is to advance sustainable hydropower by building and sharing knowledge on its role in renewable energy systems, responsible freshwater management and climate change solutions.


The International Energy Agency’s landmark ‘Net Zero by 2050’ report explores how the global energy sector can successfully decarbonise by 2050.

In its Net Zero Emissions scenario, while solar PV and wind power are projected as generating the vast majority of electricity, global hydropower capacity will also need to significantly grow, “doubling by 2050”.

The report emphasises the role pumped storage hydropower can play in the energy transition, stating that it “offers an attractive means of providing flexibility over a matter of hours and days”.  

“Our Roadmap shows the priority actions that are needed today to ensure the opportunity of net-zero emissions by 2050 – narrow but still achievable – is not lost,” said Fatih Birol, the IEA Executive Director.  

“The scale and speed of the efforts demanded by this critical and formidable goal – our best chance of tackling climate change and limiting global warming to 1.5 °C – make this perhaps the greatest challenge humankind has ever faced.”  

“The IEA’s pathway to this brighter future brings a historic surge in clean energy investment that creates millions of new jobs and lifts global economic growth. Moving the world onto that pathway requires strong and credible policy actions from governments, underpinned by much greater international cooperation.” 

Eddie Rich, CEO of IHA, commented: “This is the more forthright call for action we have seen from the world’s leading Energy think-tank. The pathway to net zero is narrowing and commitments need to now turn into radical policies, massive R&D investments, and infrastructure renewal. The green economic stimulus packages are our window of opportunity.  

“Given the long lead-in time for hydropower development, we call on governments to create an enabling environment for sustainable hydropower to optimise the generation from low carbon renewables now.”

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