Scotland could boost hydropower by 50 pct - study

Reuters, 2 September 2008 - Scotland has potential to raise hydropower capacity by about a half, helping Britain cut greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate global warming, a new study showed on Tuesday.

The Scottish government said the study by the Forum for Renewable Energy Development in Scotland showed there were still 657 megawatts of financially viable small scale hydroelectricity schemes to exploit.

This equals around half the amount of installed hydro capacity in Scotland and could power about 600,000 homes, it said.

Britain's hydropower industry is hunting for scarce locations to build dams while the government focuses on wind and nuclear power in its efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Wind farms are being built around Britain but hydropower has stagnated for decades and only one large hydropower scheme with capacity of more than 20 megawatts, the 100-MW Glendoe scheme near Loch Ness, has surfaced in the last 40 years.

"While we are unlikely to see much in the way of further large scale developments, it is clear there is huge untapped potential - and a sustainable and profitable future - in smaller and micro hydro schemes," Scottish Energy Minister Jim Mather said.

"If we can turn the tap on to new hydropower we can tackle climate change and continue to stimulate economic growth."

Hydropower contributed 70 percent of Britain's renewable power in 1996 but the share had shrunk to about 45 percent by 2004, while its role in total power generation has remained at around 1 percent, according to data from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

The British government wants renewable energy to provide 20 percent of electricity by 2020 and has controversially backed a new generation of nuclear power stations as a way of cutting greenhouse gas emissions. (Reporting by Nao Nakanishi; editing by James Jukwey)

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