Encouraged by Government incentives to increase renewable energy usage, Britain is on track to substantially expand its use of hydropower technology, with the number of plants in England and Wales set to increase from 400 to 1,200 by 2020.
The number of applications for hydropower plants has increased six fold since 2000. The UK’s Environmental Protection Agency granted 31 hydropower licences in last year and has already processed 26 applications in 2010, with a further 166 still to be assessed.
According to the Environment Agency, England and Wales has almost 4,000 sites with the potential to generate renewable energy through hydropower.
“Hydropower presents a unique set of challenges. It is a great example of a natural resource which produces few wastes. It’s a reliable and proven technology and it is increasingly attractive to local communities,” points out Lord Chris Smith, chairman of the Environment Agency.
“The challenge is to encourage the deployment of renewables, build public confidence, meet obligations on nature conservation and the environment, and not increase the risk of flooding.” He continues: “For the Environment Agency there is an extra challenge – to regulate these technologies in a simple and efficient way. We are committed to getting the regulatory balance right – making it as easy as possible for organisations to apply for hydropower permits while still protecting the local environment.”