Hydro-electric power capacity to treble by 2020

Britain's hydro-power plant capacity may treble by 2020 as electricity producers make use of government incentives for renewable energy, the Environment Agency said yesterday.

The number of hydro-electric power plants in Britain is likely to rise from 400 today to 1,200 by 2020. The agency has already approved 29 hydro-power generation licences in Britain this year and is analysing another 166 applications. It said it had identified about 4,000 locations that could accommodate hydroelectric power plants.

Britain's installed pumped storage and simple hydro-electric capacity is about 4,000MW, roughly that of four large nuclear power stations.

Although there is a target to produce 15 per cent of the UK's energy from renewable sources by 2020, opposition from residents and environmental groups has often made it hard to gain planning permissions.