Low Head Hydro Market Assessment 2008
Natural Resources Canada
Hydraulic Energy Group
CETC Number H327842.201.01 / 2008-03-01
A variety of economical, technical and public policy changes have led to a growing interest in run-of-river low head hydropower potential in Canada. Natural Resources Canada responded to this growing interest by commissioning a low head hydro market assessment. The report is now available to the Canadian public.
Hatch Energy of Niagara Falls, Ontario was selected in October 2007 through a Request for Proposal by Natural Resources Canada to carry out a low head hydropower market assessment. The purpose of this study was to assess emerging hydropower technologies and their expected market penetration, the cost of low head hydropower development, and the potential barriers, impacts and strategies for low head hydropower development in Canada and abroad.
For the purpose of this study, the upper limit of low head hydropower was assumed to be 15 metres with capacities of 50 Megawatts (MW) or less. Costs were based on current hydropower development rates and cost comparisons with competing technologies. These costs were then analysed to understand threshold price levels required to make low head hydropower competitive in the market place. Broad estimations were made for the range of costs as the site-specific nature of low head hydropower costs can vary.
Existing and emerging technology gaps, market distribution channels and detailed information on factors influencing the market were identified and analysed through consultations with hydropower experts.
The report concluded that low head hydropower potential in Canada is approximately 5,000 MW. Approximately 600 MW have been developed to date. A significant percentage of this potential would be economically viable if the price of energy was $0.1 to $0.15 per kilowatt hour (kWh), if there was a capital cost reduction of 25%, or an energy incentive of $0.05/kWh was available. In the area of capital cost reductions, it concluded that research and development in the area of electromechanical cost reductions appeared to be the most promising area for investment.