Reviewing the UK's exploited hydropower resource (onshore and offshore)

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Hydropower and tidal energy are valuable renewable energy resources that can assist in meeting the United Kingdom's net zero greenhouse gas emissions target. Existing studies have attempted to assess what the future energy resource potential is that can be harnessed from the water environment. Although schemes harnessing this energy, particularly hydropower, have been widely developed across the UK, few of the resource assessments account for already operational sites. This study takes the initial step required to holistically assess an accurate available potential by determining where and how much of the combined resource has already been exploited.

During the research it was noted that the extent of development in terms of installed capacity and locations of sites has been poorly recorded. Data collection shows that there is not a single comprehensive database of hydropower and tidal energy schemes. This study has therefore addressed this research gap collating operational hydropower and tidal energy projects.

This research determines the total installed capacity of hydropower is 4.66 GW, with 82 % of the powerhouses' locality identified. The contribution of tidal energy is much smaller at 10.63 MW. This research now makes it possible to fully understand the existing hydropower picture for the UK for the first time, allowing for more accurate resource assessments to be undertaken and for a better understanding of what the current contribution of these renewable energy sources (approximately 14 %) can be towards meeting the UK's energy demand (averaging 33 GW in 2020).
Original languageEnglish
Article number113966
Number of pages11
JournalRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Issue numberPart A
Early online date30 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2024


  • hydropower resource assessment
  • tidal energy resource assessment
  • quantifying hydro resource
  • hydro-environment


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