In 2016, hydropower was Europe's largest renewable energy resource accounting for more than 14% of total primary energy production of renewable energy in the EU-28.

Hydropower is generated by first converting the potential energy stored in water into the kinetic energy of running water, which is then converted into electrical energy via turbines.

The main hydropower technologies are:

  • run-of-river hydropower plants - obtain energy for electricity production from river water;
  • reservoir hydropower plants – use water stored in a reservoir for electricity production; and
  • pumped storage plants – here, water is pumped from a lower reservoir into an upper reservoir when electricity supply tops demand.

Where there is reservoir storage of water, hydropower can be generated when needed to meet rapid or unexpected fluctuations in demand. However, there are limited possibilities for sites and potentially high environmental impacts through land use and conversion.


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Data sources

Data on primary production and gross inland consumption for the EU countries, as well as data on electricity generated from renewable sources, can be found in Eurostat's database on energy statistics.

Detailed information on a wide variety of data sources can be obtained via Eurostat’s dedicated section on energy in general and in particular the Statistics Explained page on renewable energy statistics.

Furthermore the Directorate General for Energy offers information on renewable energy.

International energy statistics about renewable energy resources are provided by the OECD and the International Energy Agency (IEA).