Capacity factors for hydropower

Weighted average capacity factors are around 50% for small and large hydropower projects, with most projects in the range of 30% to 80% (Figure 5.5). Given the design flexibility for hydropower, depending on inflows and site characteristics, this wide range is to be expected and uniquely to hydropower, low capacity factors are often a design choice to meet peak demands, not a handicap to project economics. In Latin America, where there are significant excellent, but as yet unexploited, hydropower resources, average capacity factors for new small and large hydropower projects are 68% and 60% respectively.

FIGURE 5.5: CAPACITY FACTOR RANGES AND WEIGHTED AVERAGES FOR COMMISSIONED OR PROPOSED SMALL AND LARGE HYDROPOWER PROJECTS BY COUNTRY/REGION

SOURCE: IRENA RENEWABLE COST DATABASE.


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