French sector calls for hydropower to lead the clean energy transition

At the COP21 meetings in Paris, the French hydropower industry pledged to ensure that hydropower can play a leading role in the transition to a clean energy economy.

The Industry Call

This includes a commitment to innovation in research and development, investment in increased renewable energy production and the broader inclusion of riparian populations and stakeholders in hydropower development projects and decision-making.

In a statement published jointly by the Union Française de l’Electricité, France Hydro Electricité and the Syndicat des Énergies Renouvables, the French sector described hydropower as an opportunity which is “at the heart of the fight against climate change”.

You can read the full statement presented at COP21 in French here and in English translation here.

Today, hydropower represents 14 per cent of electricity produced in France, 75 per cent of renewable energy in the country and 95 per cent of electricity storage.

The statement highlights the positive role that hydropower can play in both climate change mitigation and adaptation, noting four major contributions that hydropower can make to the clean energy transition:

  1. As a competitive, mass source of renewable energy with the lowest carbon factor, hydropower will contribute to climate change mitigation.
  2. Storage hydropower systems can respond instantaneously to unforeseen demand and surplus in the grid. This characteristic flexibility of hydropower will complement the increased penetration of more variable renewable sources (solar and wind power) in the clean energy future.
  3. Hydropower is the only mature, competitive electricity storage technology. Pumped storage hydropower plays a double role in that it can absorb excess electricity production while also covering peak electricity consumption, without the need for the more carbon-intensive facilities traditionally used to meet peak demand.
  4. Hydropower complements sustainable freshwater resources management. In France, the freshwater resources managed by hydropower infrastructure represent 75 per cent of all surface water resources. Under changing hydrological conditions and unexpected climatic events, storage hydropower has a significant role to play in adaptation to climate change.
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