The affordability challenge for hydro

Hydroelectric plants are costly to construct, and most suitable UK sites are already in use.

The problem

If a hydroelectric plant is built on an ideal site, with abundant flowing water, the high cost of construction should eventually be offset by its long life and low operating costs. 

The solution

It is not now considered economically attractive to build new hydroelectric dams in the UK, but existing dams remain an affordable way to generate electricity.

Hydroelectric dams are costly to construct, but flowing water (the ‘fuel’ they use to generate electricity) is free. Once built, such dams are relatively inexpensive to operate and maintain.

Existing UK hydroelectric dams occupy those few locations where it is possible to generate enough electricity to justify the high cost of construction. This high cost is also eased by their typical working lifetime – around 100 years.