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About Small Hydropower Energy


Hydropower means the potential energy of water and the hydroelectric power plant is the term referring to the all facilities that generate electricity except for that of the pumping station in Korea. Especially, the facilities that have capacity lower than 10MW is defined in small hydropower.

Korea has a lot of natural potential for electricity generation through hydropower owing to its suitable terrain, weather and other natural conditions. In this extent, hydropower is the supply-effective clean energy source in Korea as it can generate and supply electricity more consistently due to its higher energy density compared to other energy sources. Furthermore, hydropower brings greater economic effects through the promotion of regional development.

Introduction to research methods resources investigation

1. Collection and analysis of the rainfall data from precipitation station

  • Collection of monthly rainfall data for river system(694 precipitation stations)
  • Characterizing of monthly rainfall data for precipitation stations

2. Selection of candidate sites

  • Map survey of candidate sites
  • Description of precipitation area

3. CPerformance prediction of candidate site

  • Calculation of flow duration characteristics of candidate site
  • Modelling of power extacted from hydropower plant

4. Prediction of the performance of hydropower resources

  • Estimation of capacity
  • Estimation of hydropower potential

Domestic Status

Korea’s mean annual precipitation is 1,245 millimeters and most of the nation’s total land area consists of mountains. Looking at its geographical and hydrological aspects, Korea is bestowed with unused water resources such as river, agricultural and irrigation water, effluence of sewage treatment plant, and circulated water of fish farm.

To develop the hydropower system in Korea, the generation method using small river constituted the major parts of development owing to the regional characteristics of Korea, such as abundance of mountains and valleys. However, the development of hydropower system did not proceed smoothly because there is a lack of economic feasibility from the declined operation rate due to the civil complaints from local residents and the unequal distribution of rainfall by season. To prevent civil complaints, the development using the existing facilities is actively promoted at present through the localization of water turbine generator and the expanded supply policy from the government..

Renewable energy supply plan by the 3rd general plan

(Unit: kTOE, %)

Source 2008 2010 2015 2020 2030 08~30
Annual Growth Rate
Hydro 946 (14.9) 972 (12.8) 1,071 (9.1) 1,071 (9.1) 1,447 (4.4) (1.9)

Korea Energy Management Corporation - New & Renewable Energy 2010

- As of 2010, total installed hydropower capacity is 1,624MW.

Renewable energy supply portion of the total electricity production by the 2nd general plan

(Unit: MWh)

Source 2008 2010 2015 2020 2030
Hydro 289,949 393,836 653,552 913,269 1,926,163

Korea Energy Management Corporation - New & Renewable Energy 2010

The amount of potential

Hydropower potential of Korea have been analyzed in 505,093GWh/year with capacity of 57,659MW. And the capacity of 212MW for existing water treatment facility are estimeted.

Hydropower potential for river system

river system Capacity(MW) Potential(GWh/Yr)
Han river 18,936 165,878
Nakdong river 19,254 168,665
Keum river 8,989 78,746
Sumjin river 5,356 46,917
Youngsan river 2,903 25,435
Jeju 2,221 19,452
Total 57,659 505,093

Korea Energy Management Corporation - New & Renewable Energy 2010

Field Number of Points Development capacity (kW)
Agricultural reservoir 209 90
Agricultural barrier for irrigation 232 47
River maintenance flow of dam 20 17
Fish farm 129 8
Purification plant 70 18
Sewage treatment plant 59 8
Cooling water of thermal power plants 6 24
Total 725 212

Korea Energy Management Corporation - New & Renewable Energy 2010