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October 2018

11 October 2018

More than 70 senior hydropower decision-makers came together for an IHA workshop to share experiences and look at tools to improve project performance and address issues such as climate change and digitalisation.

The workshop, which took place on 19 September 2018, was hosted in partnership with UNESCO at its headquarters in Paris, France.

During the workshop, IHA gave a presentation about new draft climate resilience guidelines for the hydropower sector which are being tested by IHA and its members in partnership with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the World Bank.

The guidelines aim to incorporate climate change resilience and hydrological risk management into hydropower project appraisal, design, construction and operation, resulting in more robust and resilient projects.

María Ubierna, Senior Hydropower Sector Analyst at IHA, said the guidelines would address the needs of the hydropower sector, wider financial community, policy makers and local communities. “These guidelines will help project owners and developers to go step by step to ensure that projects are resilient. There were no guidelines on this previously,” she said.

Dr Gabriel Azevedo, Chief of the Environmental, Social & Governance Division at IDB Invest, commented: “We think these guidelines can help a lot - we hope to be applying them to a few projects in the coming months.”

On the subject of digitalisation and data gathering, Stela Nenova, Corporate Affairs Advisor at ENTSO-E, said: “It’s very important, when talking about data and decision-making, that we gather good quality data and make tools openly available. Hydropower generators can help by providing better data and better access to data.”

Dr Óli Sveinsson, Executive Vice President of Research & Development at Landsvirkjun, highlighted the importance of data monitoring at hydropower infrastructure in tandem with visual inspections. “Using data efficiently requires a number of steps - in our case, investing in these steps has been highly rewarding.”

This sentiment was echoed by Daniel Paschini, Director of EDF-GEH’s Maurienne hydro business unit, who also remarked that although decision-makers can now benefit from computerised models and ‘big data’ processing, these technologies “cannot replace human intelligence, good organisation or skilled staff.”

During another session, speakers presented several tools which can help decision-makers with the reporting and benchmarking of sustainability practices at all stages of project development.

João Costa, IHA Sustainability Specialist, gave a presentation on the internationally recognised Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol, which has been expanded to cover an assessment of a project’s resilience to climate change, and the Environmental, Social and Governance Gap Analysis (ESG) Tool, which was launched in July this year.  

The Protocol and ESG Tool provide decision-makers with the “knowledge, evidence and structure to allow them to make decisions in an informed way,” Mr Costa said.

Dr Julien Harou, Chair in Water Engineering at the University of Manchester, commented that the Protocol was “ahead of the game” and “looks at how hydropower can become, socially, environmentally and economically, a responsible and proactive player.”

Participants also learned about the GHG Reservoir (G-res) Tool, which allows project stakeholders to report on the carbon footprint of a reservoir. “The G-res Tool provides a more efficient and accurate non-field sampling way to assess the greenhouse gas emissions from reservoirs,” said Sara Mercier-Blais, Research Associate at Université du Québec à Montréal.

Richard Taylor, IHA’s Chief Executive, closed the workshop by saying: “We’ve always had to make decisions under uncertainty, but it’s important to be able to explain why we make the decisions we do, and we need to work together to find solutions.” 

The workshop is part of a series of events leading up to the 2019 World Hydropower Congress between 14-16 May 2019. The next workshop in the series looks at hydropower financing under climate change on 30 January 2019 in London, UK. For more information, visit the workshop's web page or to register your interest contact events@hydropower.org

Visit the event webpage for more information about this Paris workshop.

1 October 2018 

With benefits including reduced operation and maintenance costs, and enhanced data analysis and project management, the digitalisation of hydropower projects and their control systems is a growing trend in the industry.

A recent workshop organised by the the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) with support from the International Hydropower Association (IHA) explored how digital systems are advancing the operations, maintenance and modernisation of hydropower projects.

Hosted by the Joint Technical Commission of Salto Grande between 27 and 28 August 2018 at the Salto Grande hydroelectric complex, a major binational hydropower project on the Uruguay River between Argentina and Uruguay, the workshop looked at how to plan and implement digitalisation processes into hydropower projects. More than 130 people attended including representatives of IHA member and partner organisations based in South America, North and Central America, Asia and Europe.

“This workshop was a great opportunity to start a dialogue about the digitalisation of hydropower in Latin America, where hydro still provides around half of the electricity,” said Arturo Alarcón, Senior Regional Energy Specialist at IDB. “Digitalisation is the new reality for the sector. The faster we embrace it, the sooner we will get its benefits.”

Research by IHA forecasts that, by 2030, over half of the world’s hydropower plants will be due for upgrade and modernisation or will have already been renovated.

“Digitalisation provides an opportunity to optimise the design, development and operation of hydropower assets,” said IHA’s Chief Executive Richard Taylor. “It was great to bring together so many IHA members to share their experience and plans – the workshop was a hugely valuable forum to learn about the opportunities digitalisation can bring to the sector.”

One of the participants, Nuno Guedes, Area Director at Energias de Portugal (EDP), spoke about a recent contract signed with GE for a five-year asset management and digitalisation programme at several EDP hydropower plants in Portugal and Spain. “With these digital tools we expect to have more capability of analysing the data of these plants and to better decide how to invest and control their lifecycles,” he said.

Workshop participants had the chance to visit the Salto Grande hydroelectric complex. The project’s operator has been reviewing how new digital technology can provide performance improvements for the plant, which has been in operation since 1982.

The IHA-IDB workshop is part of a series of events leading up to the 2019 World Hydropower Congress between 14-16 May 2019.

IHA also addressed digitalisation, climate change and sustainability at a workshop in Paris, France, on 19 September 2018. To find out more, visit the event webpage.

Last week IDB and IHA signed a partnership agreement to support sustainable development involving hydropower across Latin America and the Caribbean. Read more.