Developing renewable energy sustainably #WithHydropower
In the race to net zero, we must ensure renewables like hydropower are developed sustainably, providing social, economic and environmental benefits for all communities.
As outlined in the San José Declaration on Sustainable Hydropower, the only acceptable hydropower going forward is sustainable hydropower.
The sustainability of a hydropower plant is measured on performance factors including but not limited to environmental impacts, labour conditions, ecosystem biodiversity and effects on surrounding communities such as Indigenous peoples. Developers can ensure their projects are sustainable by evaluating them against the Hydropower Sustainability Standard, the internationally recognised benchmark for sustainability in hydropower development.
Pamir Energy’s Sebzor hydropower project in Tajikistan showed the way for how hydropower can be developed sustainably by becoming the world’s first project to become certified against the Hydropower Sustainability Standard.
Many regions of Tajikistan lack reliable and constant access to electricity. As a result, blackouts are common, negatively affecting industry and economic development. However, hydropower represents an affordable option for generating renewable, low-carbon energy that supports sustainable growth in the country.
Having undergone sustainability assessments in 2021, 2022 and 2023, Pamir Energy strives to continue improving the ESG impacts of the Sebzor project. The earlier assessment in 2021 was conducted using the Hydropower Sustainability ESG Gap Analysis Tool (HESG) and found that while the project provided a low-carbon source of power with limited environment effects, it had two gaps in the ‘Community Impacts and Infrastructure’ Safety section. Following an action plan, Pamir Energy demonstrated that it not only filled these previous gaps but also met all minimum requirements to become certified against the Standard, earning a Silver certification. A re-assessment in 2023 continued to find improvements such as a new water sampling methodology and revised monitoring strategy for public health issues, resulting in an assessment score of over 60% in all advanced requirements, setting them up for a certification upgrade to Gold-level.
This achievement is just the beginning for Sebzor and Tajikistan as Amrikhon Raimov, General Director of Pamir Energy commented on the certification: “We are proud to be leading the way in sustainable hydropower development in Tajikistan and beyond. As part of our efforts in continuing to achieve the highest standards of sustainability, we are working towards obtaining the Gold certification against the Hydropower Sustainability Standard.”
The Sebzor project in Tajikistan, a project co-led with the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan and implemented using financial and technical support from the European Union and the German Government through German Bank KFW, showcases the benefits sustainable hydropower can bring to both a country and its people, reconciling the need to meet energy demand and ensure net-positive outcomes for surrounding communities and ecosystems.