Sustainable Development through Hydropower: Insights from Developing Economies

The Power of Hydropower

Hydropower refers to the generation of electricity through the use of water flow or the gravitational force of falling or flowing water. It is a proven and reliable source of renewable energy, accounting for approximately 16% of the world’s electricity production[^1^]. The following highlights the key advantages and features of hydropower:

  • Renewable Energy: Hydropower relies on the continuous water cycle, making it a sustainable and renewable energy source.
  • Low Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Hydropower plants produce minimal greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil fuel-based power plants, helping to combat climate change.
  • Flood Control: Hydropower projects often include reservoirs that can regulate water flow, reducing the risk of floods downstream.
  • Water Supply Management: Hydropower projects can contribute to water supply management, ensuring reliable access to clean water for irrigation, industries, and communities.
  • Energy Storage: Hydropower’s ability to store energy in reservoirs enables the system to respond to fluctuating energy demands and acts as a reliable backup during intermittent renewable energy generation.

Insights from Developing Economies

Developing economies have leveraged hydropower to address their energy needs, foster economic growth, and uplift communities. Here are some insights gained from specific examples:

China: The Hydropower Giant

China leads the world in hydropower generation, with a vast network of dams and facilities. The Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydropower station, exemplifies China’s commitment to sustainable development. Key takeaways include:

  • Massive Energy Generation: The Three Gorges Dam generates roughly 100 TWh of electricity annually[^2^], contributing significantly to China’s energy security.
  • Flood Control and Navigation: The dam has played a crucial role in reducing flood risks along the Yangtze River and improving navigation conditions.
  • Environmental Considerations: China has actively pursued environmental mitigation efforts, such as fish passages and upstream ecological restoration, to minimize the environmental impact of the dam.

China’s experience demonstrates the potential of hydropower in meeting rapid industrialization and economic growth while addressing environmental concerns.

Brazil: Clean Energy Leader in Latin America

Brazil has successfully integrated hydropower into its energy mix, contributing to its status as a clean energy leader in Latin America. The Itaipu Dam, a jointly operated venture with Paraguay, showcases Brazil’s sustainable energy achievements:

  • Megawatt Production: Itaipu Dam has a total installed capacity of 14 GW, producing an average of 90 million MWh per year[^3^].
  • Renewable Energy Transition: Brazil’s reliance on hydropower has helped reduce its dependence on fossil fuel-based power generation and transition to renewable energy sources.
  • Strengthened Bilateral Relations: The Itaipu Dam stands as a symbol of cooperation and partnership between Brazil and Paraguay, benefiting both countries economically and socially.

Brazil’s success in hydropower demonstrates how sustainable energy solutions can drive economic development while forging strong regional partnerships.


Hydropower offers a sustainable and renewable energy solution that can drive sustainable development in developing economies. Insights from China and Brazil highlight the benefits and achievements of harnessing hydropower, including massive energy generation, flood control, environmental considerations, and economic growth. By embracing hydropower, developing economies can foster clean energy transitions, mitigate climate change impacts, and uplift communities.

For more information on the importance of hydropower and its role in sustainable development, visit the HydroWorld website.

Start harnessing the power of water today and pave the way for a sustainable future!


  1. International Hydropower Association. (2021). 2021 Hydropower Status Report. Retrieved from
  2. China Three Gorges Corporation. (2021). The Three Gorges Dam. Retrieved from
  3. Itaipu Binacional. (2021). Annual Reports. Retrieved from

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