202 BC and 9 AD - Some of the first innovations in using water for power were conceived in China during the Han Dynasty. Trip hammers powered by a vertical-set water wheel were used to pound and hull grain, break ore, and in early papermaking.
1771 - Richard Arkwright set up Cromford Mill in England’s Derwent valley to spin cotton and so set up one of the world’s first factory systems, hydropower was the energy source he used.
1827 - French engineer Benoit Fourneyron developed a turbine capable of producing around six horsepower – the earliest version of the Fourneyron reaction turbine.
1849 - British–American engineer James Francis developed the first modern water turbine – the Francis turbine – which remains the most widely used water turbine in the world today.
1870s - American inventor Lester Allan Pelton developed the Pelton wheel, an impulse water turbine, which he patented in 1880.
1913 - Austrian professor Viktor Kaplan developed the Kaplan turbine – a propeller-type turbine with adjustable blades.
1881- North America, hydropower plants were installed at Grand Rapids, Michigan; Ottawa, Ontario; Dolgeville, New York; and Niagara Falls, New York. They were used to supply mills and light some local buildings.
1891 - Germany produces the first three-phase hydroelectric system and
1895 - Australia launches the first publicly-owned plant in the southern hemisphere. The world’s largest hydroelectric development of the time, the Edward Dean Adams Power Plant, was created at Niagara Falls.
1900s - Small hydropower plants were in operation as the emerging technology spread across the world. In China, in 1905, a hydroelectric station was built on the Xindian creek near Taipei, with an installed capacity of 500 kW.
1930s -Policies enacted by US President Franklin Roosevelt supported the construction of several multipurpose projects such as the Hoover and Grand Coulee dams with hydropower accounting for 40 per cent of the country’s electricity generation by 1940.
1940s to 1970s - Spurred initially by World War II followed by strong post-war economic and population growth, state-owned utilities built significant hydropower developments throughout Western Europe, as well as the Soviet Union, North America and Japan.
1984 - Brazil and China became world leaders in hydropower. The Itaipu Dam, straddling Brazil and Paraguay, opened with a capacity of 12,600 MW. It has since been enlarged and upgraded to 14,000 MW. Today it is eclipsed in size only by the 22,500 MW Three Gorges Dam in China.
2000 - A landmark report published by the World Commission on Dams (WCD) challenged existing practices and initiated a change in the planning and development of hydropower towards a focus on sustainability and affected communities.
2004 - Work began on the IHA Sustainability Guidelines.These guidelines led to the development of the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol (HSAP), a multi-stakeholder tool for assessing projects at all phases of their life cycle.
Between 2000 and 2017- Nearly 500 GW in hydropower installed capacity was added worldwide, representing an increase of 65 percent, with growth since 2010 already outstripping that recorded in the first decade of the century.