New Year greetings from Eddie Rich

Message from IHA's Chief Executive

Dear members, partners and friends

As we approach the end of another decade, let us acknowledge the crucial truth. Never before in history has there been so much attention on renewable energy. Never has there been a greater demand for energy from socially, environmentally and climatically sustainable sources. Despite or perhaps because of a polarised global political debate, never before has there been such a clamour for facts and evidence-based policy.  This creates an unprecedented opportunity for sustainable hydropower.  

IRENA calls for a near doubling of hydropower installed capacity to 2,147 GW by 2050. Of that, pumped storage would need to more than double to 325 GW.  It requires determined and enabling policy, market restructuring to better incentivise energy storage and a step change in technical integration capability globally.

In my first 100 days as CEO, I have met with numerous members, partners and stakeholders.  I have been to Canada, China, Indonesia, Malaysia and the United States.  The message is clear: hydropower’s story is strong and we need to reinforce it:

  1. Hydropower is renewable #decarbonisenow!
  2. Hydropower sits centrally in the renewables mix. The stability and flexibility of hydropower effectively complements variable renewable assets (solar and wind). #naturesownbattery
  3. Hydropower has a sustainable future. The debate should not be between big or small hydropower, it should between sustainable or unsustainable. We now have a set of sustainability tools developed with social and environmental NGOs, governments and financial institutions that can test and validate all future projects as good and best practice. #sustainabilitytested  
  4. Hydropower has the lowest carbon footprint over its life cycle than any other form of energy. Again there is now a tool to assess the greenhouse gas emissions of projects. This should be used. #carbontested
  5. Hydropower can be tested for climate-related risks using the new hydropower sector climate resilience guide. #climatetested
  6. Hydropower is modernising and digitalising #optimumhydro

Building on COP25, we have a rhythm of meetings in 2020 and 2021 to build momentum for sustainable hydropower as part of the renewable energy mix in the 21st century. In January, we begin with a dedicated plenary on hydropower at the IRENA General Assembly involving dozens of energy ministers from around the world. We have COP in Glasgow near the end of the year. And of course, 2021 sees the World Hydropower Congress come to San Jose in Costa Rica in the year that it hopes to confirm full decarbonisation.  

Thank you for your support in 2019. Highlights from the past year include the World Hydropower Congress, hosted in Paris, 14-16 May 2019. Over 750 leading decision-makers, innovators and experts from industry, government, finance, civil society and academia gathered to discuss hydropower’s contribution to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement. Across 40 key focus sessions and workshops, participants listened, learned, built capacity and strengthened networks for the future. The outcomes of the congress helped shape the association’s work programmes as set out in our strategy. As a non-profit membership organisation, IHA strives to support members in a practical way and advance policies which enhance the sector’s performance.

We have provided assessments and training on our Hydropower Sustainability Tools, launched the innovation in flexibility project XFLEX HYDRO,  produced numerous guidance notes and been at all the major events that help position sustainable hydropower at the heart of the renewables energy mix. We also have developed the online members’ knowledge networks and expert groups on the Hydropower Pro online community which is driving knowledge and innovations across the sector.  

But there is still much to do. You can help by:

  • Encouraging all projects to be sustainability tested;
  • Learning and delivering best and good practice in hydropower;
  • Demanding best practice in your partners;
  • Engaging in knowledge networks;
  • Recruiting more IHA members;
  • Engaging in energy policy;
  • Helping to deliver a groundbreaking 2021 World Hydropower Congress.  

Let’s build a momentum. Let’s change the discourse. And let’s provide sustainable hydropower for the future.  

Happy New Year!

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