Beijing forum: hydropower seen as integral to future energy systems

31 May 2018

Business and policy leaders exchanged views on how to accelerate the adoption of renewable technologies at the Beijing Forum on Hydropower and Future Energy Systems in China last week.

The forum organised by the International Hydropower Association (IHA) brought together more than 100 global leaders and experts in planning and developing small and large-scale energy systems.    

The delegates discussed national and regional efforts to finance the energy transition, enable storage and scale up interconnections between countries. A consensus view was that investment in hydropower is essential to deliver affordable, reliable and sustainable energy.

“Accelerating the development of hydropower is essential for the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement,” said Mr Zhou Yuanbing, Director-General of the Economic & Technology Research Institute of the Beijing-headquartered Global Energy Interconnection Development and Cooperation Organization (GEIDCO).

“Hydropower has several inherent characteristics that can be played to its full advantage - it is mature, flexible and very cost effective,” he noted.

“One of the strengths of hydropower is that it can be developed at a whole range of scales, from kilowatts to gigawatts,” said Richard Taylor, Chief Executive of IHA, in his opening address. He pointed to innovation in China, at one end of the spectrum, where turbines are being developed to reach 1 GW in generating capacity.

“That a single turbine can have the same capacity as a major power station is an extraordinary technological achievement. At the other end of the spectrum, hydropower is a technology which can bring electricity to remote communities for the very first time.”

The Beijing Forum on Hydropower and Future Energy Systems was held between 21 and 22 May 2018 at the headquarters of China Three Gorges Corporation (CTG). The event was co-sponsored by CTG, the China Society for Hydropower Engineering (CSHE), the China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research (IWHR) and GEIDCO.

In addition to IHA members, attendees included government, financial and multilateral institutions such as the China’s National Development and Reform Commission and the National Energy Administration, the China Development Bank, the International Renewable Energy Agency, UNESCO, and the World Bank Group.

In his address, Mr Taylor warned of the “tremendous challenge” faced in financing the carbon reduction targets underpinning the Paris Agreement, as well as the SDGs. “Trillions of dollars will be needed to meet the targets – and there are those who say these targets are not sufficient,” he said.

During the forum, delegates heard that the World Bank Group has committed to double investment in renewable electricity to 20 GW over the next five years. “This doubling is not possible without hydropower,” said Pravin Karki, Lead for Hydropower and Dams, who participated in a panel discussion on financing the energy transition.

Mr Karki cited the Hydropower Preparation Facility model which is being promoted by IHA to help governments identify sustainable projects while reducing development risks for developers and investors. “It will promote better planning of sustainable hydropower,” he said.

Mr Chen Sunjiao, Director-General of China Development Bank’s Project Appraisal Department, supported efforts by IHA and other organisations to deliver tools to advance sustainable hydropower. “Hydropower is a green source of power and that’s why we must follow green guidelines,” he said.

Mr Zhang Ye, President of CSHE, congratulated IHA for enabling international cooperation on future energy systems and for its work programmes on hydropower finance and sustainability. “Throughout the years IHA has been making dedicated efforts to promote the sustainable development of hydropower,” he said.

“China’s hydropower industry has benefitted a lot from such efforts through the access to global leading knowledge networks and tools such as the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol.”

Presentations from the forum are available to IHA members; please contact to request copies.

Visit the forum event webpage for more information.

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