COP26 panel urges policy rethink to incentivise growth in hydropower

“We’ve got this incredible storage potential that we’re not taking full advantage of’ – IHA CEO Eddie Rich

Experts at a UN Climate Conference (COP26) side event organised by En+ Group addressed barriers faced by the hydropower sector that risk slowing the global clean energy transition.

The panel discussed hydropower’s role in building renewable energy grids, but raised concerns that outdated regulations and inadequate financial incentives are limiting hydropower deployment.

IHA Chief Executive Eddie Rich described the lack of long-duration energy storage – such as that provided by pumped storage hydropower – to support growing penetrations of variable solar and wind power “the ignored crisis with the wider crisis.”

He said policy-makers should examine whether domestic market frameworks effectively reward the flexibility and storage services hydropower provides. “We’ve got this incredible storage potential that we’re not taking full advantage of,” he noted.

Challenging governments, Mr Rich asked them to consider questions such as: “What are the policies that are going to be required to make more of these projects bankable? What are the tweaks to the market to make this an attractive investment opportunity?”

Vincent-Michel Duval, General Director of the Global Sustainable Electricity Partnership, emphasised the importance of hydropower in future energy mixes. “Not only is hydropower a low carbon energy source” he said, “but it is also essential to further integrate renewable energy sources.

“Without hydro, the clean [energy] transition will be at the least very difficult. We need to couple with wind and solar – it’s the perfect team to ensure the grid is green.”

International cooperation on the path to net zero

The panel discussed deploying renewable energy technologies where they will be most effective depending on local geographies. Vyacheslav Solomin, Chief Operating Officer of En+ Group, added that countries need to work together to build efficient renewable energy grids.

“We should be investing and building more hydropower plants where they are geographically more viable,” he said.

To build integrated renewable energy grids, the panel agreed there must be appropriate regulations and financial incentives to drive growth and international collaboration on the path to net zero.

Watch the panel discussion now beginning at 10:25.

View all COP26 events

Read more IHA reports from COP26:

Privacy Policy