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Icelandic hydropower project demonstrates best practice in sustainability

14 February 2018

The Fljótsdalur Hydropower Station in Iceland has become the power company Landsvirkjun’s third project to be assessed under the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol.

The plant, which has an installed capacity of 690 MW, was assessed against 17 categories in September 2017, achieving proven best practice scores in eleven, including biodiversity and invasive species, communications and consultation, and reservoir management.

In a statement, the company said: “The results showed that operations at the Fljótsdalur Hydropower Station are largely considered to be of highest standard with regard to the sustainable utilisation of hydroelectric power.

“Many of the other working practices at the station were considered to be of the highest possible quality.”

Of the six remaining categories assessed, four were deemed to demonstrate international good practice and two were considered to be non-applicable.

Fljótsdalur follows the Hvammur Hydropower Station and the Blanda Hydropower Station, which were assessed under the Protocol in 2012 and 2013 respectively, with the latter being awarded the IHA Blue Planet Prize at the 2017 World Hydropower Congress. 

A fourth Landsvirkjun plant, the Þeistareykir Geothermal Power Station, was also assessed in 2017, during the testing process of the Geothermal Sustainability Assessment Protocol, which is being developed based on the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol.

The Protocol was launched in 2011 and has become the leading international tool for measuring the sustainability of hydropower projects, having been applied in more than 25 countries. It offers a way to assess the performance of a hydropower project across more than 20 sustainability topics.

Protocol assessments are based on objective evidence and the results are presented in a standardised way, making it easy to see how existing facilities are performing and how well new projects are being developed.

Find out more: hydropower.org/sustainability

SDG7 conference: Hydropower ‘part of the solution’ to sustainable development

14 February 2018

Governments will review the United Nations goal on sustainable energy at a major summit in Bangkok, Thailand, next week.

The Global SDG7 Conference, at which the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) is hosting a side-event on hydropower, will allow policy-makers to take stock of progress to boost energy access.

Sustainable Development Goal 7, which was agreed by world leaders at the UN in 2015 along with 16 other goals, aims to “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”.

Despite its adoption, the UN estimates that 1.06 billion people, predominantly rural dwellers, still do not have access to electricity. Half of those people live in sub-Saharan Africa.

Ahead of the Bangkok conference between 21 and 23 February 2018, the International Hydropower Association (IHA) and Norad have urged countries to recognise hydropower’s significant role in efforts to achieve sustainable development.

Jon Lomøy, Director General of Norad, described the conference as “an important platform to mobilise the global energy community” to take action.

“To achieve SDG7 we need to enable the whole spectrum of renewable technologies and resources. Hydropower is a perfect match with wind and solar power to ensure high quality energy supply. Hydropower is therefore part of the solution for sustainable development.”

“The Norwegian Government is highly committed to the 2030 Agenda and we welcome this conference organised by UN DESA,” he said.

The conference comes as a major report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) found hydropower remains the world’s lowest-cost source of renewable electricity, at a global weighted average levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) of US$0.05 per kWh.

Richard Taylor, Chief Executive of the International Hydropower Association (IHA), said: “As the lowest-cost renewable energy technology, hydropower remains at the centre of international efforts to decarbonise and transition to a clean energy future.

“The Global SDG7 Conference is a significant moment for countries to take stock and recognise hydropower’s role, working together with other renewables, in national plans to achieve affordable, sustainable energy.”

The conference will give policy-makers and stakeholders the opportunity to identify trends and gaps in progress towards the goal, and look at finance, capacity-building and innovation. It will be followed by a high-level political forum in New York in July, during which strategies will be discussed for accelerating progress on goals for energy, water and sanitation, cities, and the environment.

The Norad side-event between 16:30-18:00 on 21 February is entitled ‘Hydropower: part of the solution for sustainable development’. The event at UN ESCAP headquarters will provide examples of institutional cooperation between Norway, Myanmar and Nepal.

Speakers include: Norway’s State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Marianne Hagen; Norad Asssistant Director for Climate, Energy, Environment and Research Oernulf Stroem; and Myanmar Ministry of Electricity and Energy Assistant Director Pauk Kyaing Sahm.

Next year the World Hydropower Congress in Paris, between 14 and 16 May 2019, will focus on hydropower’s role in delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals.

For more information on the Global SDG7 Conference organised by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), please visit the event website.

Hydropower preparation facility gains support at finance workshop

13 February 2018

Leaders from the investment community along with hydropower developers have voiced support for a new model of delivering sustainable hydropower projects.

The Hydropower Preparation Facility concept was praised at an IHA workshop on 5 February 2018 in the City of London, which aimed to identify innovative financing solutions for hydropower, including green bonds.

The workshop was attended by 50 senior executives including IHA members from across the globe. It was hosted by King & Spalding LLP and sponsored by Brookfield Renewable.

A common theme of discussion was the high upfront costs and risks associated with financing the early-stage preparation of hydropower projects relative to other renewable technologies, including solar and wind. 

According to one of the panellists, Paul Kunert, Chief Executive of Joule Africa, despite the urgent need for clean energy, funding for hydropower projects has been “languishing” next to other technologies. 

“Hydropower could be the clean, green backbone in Africa, where it is a largely untapped resource. It has a different profile in terms of availability in comparison with other renewables.” 

But, Mr Kunert said, “there is currently a mismatch between the enormous need for energy and the amount of private-sector money that is ready to be deployed.”

Richard Taylor, Chief Executive of IHA, opened the discussion by introducing the emerging hydropower facility concept, which would help governments select and prepare the most appropriate hydropower projects before putting them out to tender. 

The model, which was proposed by IHA at the 2017 World Hydropower Congress in Ethiopia and endorsed by SEforALL, could generate a pipeline of new, well-prepared projects, he said.

“The host government gets projects which would have a better strategic fit within the country, and would be guided by international good practice in sustainability,” said Mr Taylor. “For a developer, it increases the project’s bankability and confidence that it will enjoy strong support.”

Jason Lu, Head of the Global Infrastructure Facility (GIF), a partnership of governments, multilateral banks and investors, established in 2015, described the concept as a “a very relevant proposal”.

“It is indeed time for the industry to think about a more effective and sustainable project preparation or development model.” Such a facility could deal with issues including “the time that it takes, the money it takes, and the risk involved,” he said. “This is really overdue. It is time to take it seriously.”

The sentiment was echoed by fellow panellist Pravin Karki, Global Lead for Hydropower and Dams at the World Bank, who commented that “hydropower will have a very important role to play in the future, as confirmed by all credible scenarios for clean energy development.”

The workshop was opened by Kelly Malone, Partner and Global Head for Power at King & Spalding, who outlined the range of lenders and financial instruments, including green bonds, for developers to consider when seeking finance, or re-finance, for hydropower projects.

Mr Malone highlighted the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol developed by a multiple stakeholder group including IHA, saying it is a “powerful tool” for promoting compliance by project sponsors. “It has enormous potential to gain credibility in the market,” he said.

In another panel discussion, Anna Creed, Head of Standards at the Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI), outlined the growth of the green bond market, which saw more than 1,500 green bond issuances totalling US$155 billion in 2017.

Workshop participants heard how IHA is working with the CBI and partners to agree internationally recognised hydropower eligibility criteria for green bonds. The criteria will build the confidence of investors on the sustainability credentials of hydropower projects.

André Abadie, Managing Director and Global Head of Environmental and Social Risk Management at J.P. Morgan, closed the final workshop session by saying: “Hydro needs to have a place at the table in terms of the energy future.

“It would be remiss of us not to push and continue to articulate that hydro has a role and - from a green, sustainability and social impact perspective - can be well managed.”

Visit the workshop webpage to see the full list of speakers. IHA members and attendees can download password protected presentations.

 

Video: Assessing hydropower projects against good practices in sustainability

4 January 2018

Since its launch in 2011, the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol has become the leading international tool for measuring the sustainability of hydropower projects.

It is used to assess both new projects and existing facilities according to a range of social, environmental, technical and economic criteria, and has so far been applied in more than 25 countries.

To learn more, watch our short documentary:

Assessing hydropower projects against good practices in sustainability

 

“The Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol is really a common language for the sector,” said Richard Taylor, Chief Executive of the International Hydropower Association (IHA), which has a role in supporting the Protocol’s multi-stakeholder governance committee and in managing assessments.

“It bases itself on two reference points: international good practice and proven best practice.”

The Reventazón Hydroelectric Project in Costa Rica’s Limón province became the first hydropower plant in Central America to be officially assessed by the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol, in 2017.

It is the largest hydropower plant in the region, with an installed capacity of 305.5 MW, providing clean electricity to half a million homes. The project was designed, developed and built between 2012 and 2016 by Costa Rica’s national power company, Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE).

The project was classed as an example of international good practice overall, and also recognised for achieving proven best practice scores in communications and consultation, infrastructure safety, financial viability, resettlement and public health. 

The results of the Protocol assessment were announced at an international workshop hosted by IHA, the World Bank Group and Costa Rica’s government in San José, Costa Rica, on 27 September 2017.

“Using the Protocol has helped confirm that we are doing things right, and also allows us to consider all aspects of sustainability together,” said Carlos Obregón, Executive President of ICE.

Renewable energy showcase offers climate change solutions at COP23

15 December 2018

The International Hydropower Association (IHA) joined nearly 300 climate change and renewable energy experts at the Global Renewable Energy Solutions Showcase (GRESS) at the COP23 climate change conference in Bonn, Germany, last month.  

The two day showcase which brought together leading representatives of the wind, solar, geothermal and hydropower sectors, aimed to demonstrate how a 100 per cent renewable energy future is achievable.

Stefan Gsänger, Secretary General of the World Wind Energy Association (WWEA) and organiser of the showcase between 7 and 8 November 2017, said: “The word ‘GRESS’ comes from Latin and means ‘step’ or move’. This is exactly what we need now: the governments of the world must move fast and take the big decisions to pave the way for a renewable energy future.

“Governments should in particular remove barriers which are preventing citizens and communities from investing in renewable energy and from harvesting their local renewable resources.

“A clear outcome of GRESS is that the renewable energy community, including thousands of companies and millions of citizens around the world, are ready to deliver the solutions that will be necessary for a renewable energy future.”

Richard Taylor, Chief Executive of IHA, one of the speakers, said: “There is no one technology that is the panacea to the challenges posed by climate change. We need all renewables working together in different ways to serve different needs – for power, heat and transport.

“It isn’t the variability of some renewables that is the problem, it is the variability of some political decisions that compromises investment in the sector. There are alarming signs of a slowdown in the rate of progress, notably in Europe, but there is good progress elsewhere.

“A shining light is Central America. Costa Rica delivering 99.6 per cent of the country’s power through renewable energy is an inspiration, as is the flourishing regional market through the Central American Electricity Interconnection System.”

Peter Rae, the World Wind Energy Association’s (WWEA) President, commented: “A broad cross-section of experts spoke at this two day event, which demonstrated that 100 per cent renewable energy is achievable using present technologies and by methods which are in train – particularly storage.”

 A summary of GRESS can be found on the event website: www.globalrenewable.solutions

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