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May 2019

17 May 2019

Commitments underpin the renewable energy transition, manage climate risks and champion good practice

The seventh World Hydropower Congress concluded in Paris this week with 750 delegates from 70 countries participating. Partner organisations announced a range of initiatives to ensure hydropower projects and assets can bring maximum benefits when delivered sustainably.

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The congress, 14-16 May, brought together heads of organisations, senior executives and representatives from multiple sectors, including industry, the United Nations, government, civil society including indigenous community representatives, financial institutions including all multilateral development banks, and experts from academia. 

The International Hydropower Association (IHA), which convened the biennial event along with 50 partner organisations, pledged to continue its work to advance sustainable hydropower and share solutions which support the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.

In the closing session on 16 May, Richard Taylor, Chief Executive of IHA, said the association would continue to build and share knowledge on clean energy systems, responsibly managed freshwater, and climate change solutions. “Every hydropower project is an ambassador for the whole sector. There is no hiding place for bad practice or projects that are deemed to be a loss to society or the planet,” he said.

Mr Taylor announced that IHA would pursue new initiatives to help the sector bring forward solutions to enhance hydropower’s flexibility and deliver clean, efficient storage for integrated electricity grids, involving a mix of hydropower, solar and wind power and other renewables. 

In addition, Mr Taylor made a commitment for IHA to work closely with the UN, civil society, business, governments and investors to achieve a common understanding of good practice for hydropower projects affecting protected areas, and when working with indigenous communities.

The Global Network of Sustainable Water and Energy Solutions, an initiative started by Itaipu Binacional and UNDESA, and now supported by IHA and a growing community of governmental and non-governmental entities, had its inaugural meeting during the Congress. The network aims to show how the water-energy nexus can be managed sustainably, especially to find climate solutions. Within the wide spectrum of the nexus, “hydropower projects can be of great value in the fight against climate change”, said Jose Maria Sanchez, Paraguayan Technical Director of Itaipu Binacional.

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“Today Itaipu Binacional reiterates its commitment to our partners, IHA and UNDESA, to continue working together to achieve the goals proposed in both the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” Mr Sanchez added.

A joint statement led by The Nature Conservancy, WWF and other non-governmental organisations was also announced on the closing day. “Hydropower can help balance power systems and facilitate the integration of a higher share of wind and solar generation – both through reoperation of existing hydropower and through strategically designed new projects, including pumped storage, that avoid the significant tradeoffs associated with past development,” states the declaration, which promotes collaboration to deliver low cost, low impact and low carbon energy. 

The World Hydropower Congress saw organisations reflect on ways to overcome a variety of challenges, covering project financing and development, operations, maintenance and modernisation. A major new European initiative on technology to enhance hydropower flexibility was discussed - IHA and many of its members are to be involved, with the project led by EPFL.

Regional commitments included the Inter-American Development Bank working with IHA on the Hydropower Sustainability Tools to build capacity in Latin America. 

More than 200 speakers exchanged experiences and examples of good practice at the World Hydropower Congress across 40 focus sessions and workshops.

Reflecting on a challenging year for the Ituango hydropower project in Colombia, EPM CEO Jorge Lodoño said: “The opportunity to share our experience with so many players in the World Hydropower Congress has been extremely valuable to us. The key to overcoming the gigantic challenges that EPM has faced since the incidents at Ituango has been transparency and our company’s willingness to engage and discuss all the issues. This has galvanised broad-based support, which is much appreciated."

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On 15 May, the World Hydropower Congress saw the launch of a new IHA Hydropower Sector Climate Resilience Guide to help projects become more resilient to climate change. It was developed with technical and financial support provided by the World Bank Group and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Both institutions committed to continue to work with IHA in helping the sector utilise the guide. 

IHA noted requests to establish knowledge-building and sharing initiatives around hydropower safety, pumped storage technology, policy and markets, and emerging hybrid technologies such as floating solar at hydropower projects; ESMAP and IHA announced plans to further studies on the global potential of this technology. 

At the World Hydropower Congress awards ceremony, Costa Rica’s Reventazon project was recognised as the recipient of the 2019 IHA Blue Planet Prize for sustainable hydropower development. Two other prizes - the IHA Mosonyi Award for Excellence in Hydropower and IHA Young Researcher Award - were also announced.

The 2019 Hydropower Status Report was launched by IHA on 13 May, showing electricity generation from hydropower achieved a record estimated 4,200 TWh in 2018, as worldwide installed hydropower capacity climbed to 1,292 GW.

Find out more about the World Hydropower Congress: www.hydropower.org/congress

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The prestigious 2019 IHA Mosonyi Award for Excellence in Hydropower was jointly awarded to three leading members of the hydropower community, at an awards ceremony at the World Hydropower Congress in Paris on 15 May.

The award went to: Karin Seelos, Statkraft Vice President (Power Generation and International Affairs); Refaat Abdel Malek, Former President of IHA and Vice Chairman of MWH Global; and Yan Zhiyong, Chairman of Power Construction Corporation of China.

Karin Seelos was recognised by the judging panel for her long-standing commitment to hydropower sustainability, which has had a major impact on the profession. Her work, including on an IHA White Paper on Hydropower and Sustainable Development, helped form the foundation for sector-wide sustainability guidelines and assessment tools. This helped catalyse a revolution of policy and thinking in the sector.

On receiving her award, Ms Seelos said “I am very grateful and deeply honoured to receive this prestigious award and would like to thank the IHA Board for this recognition. I was lucky to gain experience from some of the world’s leading hydropower utilities, Hydro-Québec in French Canada, and Statkraft in Norway."

Ms Seelos reflected on the “tremendous journey” that the hydropower sector has undergone in the past two decades since IHA was established. Hydropower is now considered a “key resource to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on climate change”, she said.

“I hope the sector will continue its collaborative journey, focusing on gaining and sharing knowledge as an important part of the renewables family. Being part of the solution will be key to our success.”

Refaat Abdel Malek was President of IHA between 2007 and 2013, during which time he contributed to the development of the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol. Under his leadership, IHA led outreach to civil society organisations and governmental agencies supporting development around the world. He contributed actively to the participation of Latin American and Chinese organisations in international forums and to sharing knowledge in an inclusive way.

Mr Malek said: “I am grateful for the IHA for the excellent recognition through the IHA Mosonyi Award. The highlight of my career is to be a part of the IHA effort, together with other colleagues and organisations, to achieve the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol. This is an achievement that returned the development of hydropower to the forefront of sustainable energy around the world.”

Yan Zhiyong was recognised for his contribution to the development of China’s hydropower industry and for his commitment to implement sustainability practices. With a philosophy of ‘people oriented green development’, he has organised and participated in formulating renewable energy development master plans for around 100 countries. He started as a designer in hydropower planning, then became the President of the China Renewable Energy Engineering Institute before he was Chairman of Power Construction Corporation of China.

Named after the renowned engineer Prof Dr Emil Mosonyi, IHA’s founding President, the award is for one or more of the following:

  • a long-standing commitment or initiative that has had a major impact on the profession;
  • a specific hydropower project, the performance of an organisation or the hydropower sector in general; or
  • an aspect of hydropower sustainability (technical, economic, social or environmental) or a broad-ranging initiative, such as national-level or basin-level strategic planning.

The winners receive lifetime honorary membership with IHA and guest registration to the 2019 World Hydropower Congress.

The Mosonyi award was one of three presented at the 2019 World Hydropower Congress, along with the IHA Blue Planet Prize and the IHA Young Researcher Award. 

The 2019 IHA Young Researcher Award has been jointly awarded to two rising stars from universities in Switzerland and China, at an awards ceremony at the World Hydropower Congress in Paris.

Martina Botter, a PhD student at ETH Zurich in Switzerland, and Weijia Yang, a Research Associate Professor at Wuhan University, were recognised by the International Hydropower Association (IHA) for their research studies.

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Ms Botter’s research provides a decision support system to test new hydropower operation strategies to adapt to a changing climate and economic context. The framework has the capability of accounting for the uncertainty which characterises the operating context, so that multiple different scenarios can be considered at the same time and robust adaptation strategies can be identified. 

On receiving her award, Ms Botter said: “I am honoured to have received this prize. It means motivation to me, motivation to continue investigating in the field of climate resilience, adaptation strategies and a multi-objective approach in the decision making process of hydropower planning and management. I am very glad to see the relevance these topics have in this World Hydropower Congress, since they represent the main challenges for the future of hydropower."

Mr Weijia Yang, who works at Wuhan University’s State Key Laboratory of Water Resources and Hydropower Engineering Science, submitted research offering an assessment framework of burden on hydropower units for short-term balancing of renewable power systems. His paper looks at the burden, performance and payment of hydropower regulation under various conditions and future scenarios, leading to potential benefits for hydropower producers and transmission system operators.

Two finalists were also recognised at the awards ceremony: Sebastián Leguizamón, a PhD student from EPF Lausanne, and Chantel Monica Niebuhr, a PhD student from the University of Pretoria. The ceremony took place at Pavillon d’Armenonville in the city of Paris. 

The IHA Young Researcher Award is open to young engineers and scientists aged under 30 and is made every two years at the World Hydropower Congress.

Entrants are invited to submit a short article summarising their work (no more than 1,500 words). The subject must be relevant to at least one of the topics under discussion at the upcoming World Hydropower Congress.

The winner will receive a year’s individual membership with IHA and free registration to the World Hydropower Congress, where they present their research.

IHA’s Chief Executive Richard Taylor said: “The IHA Young Researcher Award provides an opportunity for young innovators to share their research with key representatives from the hydropower sector, government, financial and academic institutions and civil society. It is a rare chance to bring specialist research findings to the attention of policy-makers from around the world.”

The award was first presented at the 2015 World Hydropower Congress in Beijing, China, where it was won by Sami Khan of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for his work on hydrophobic rare-earth oxide coatings and their potential application in hydropower systems.

It was awarded again at the 2017 World Hydropower Congress in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The recipients were Alexandros Korkovelos of KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sara Mercier-Blais of the University of Quebec in Montreal and Rafael Schmitt of UC Berkeley.

www.hydropower.org/iha-young-researcher-award

The 2019 IHA Blue Planet Prize, which recognises excellence in sustainable hydropower development, has been awarded to the Reventazón Hydropower Plant in Costa Rica.

Reventazón is the largest hydropower project in Central America with 305.5 megawatts of installed capacity. Since it came into operation in 2016, the project has led Costa Rica to achieve a target of generating 100 per cent of its electricity from renewable energy sources. 

IHA President Ken Adams presents IHA Blue Planet Prize to Irene Cañas Díaz, President of ICE

 

The IHA Blue Planet Prize is given to a hydropower project which demonstrates excellence across a range of social, environmental, technical and economic performance criteria. A judging panel awards the prize on the basis of an independent project assessment made using the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol, an internationally recognised performance measurement tool.

The prize announcement was made at the World Hydropower Congress in Paris at an awards ceremony held on 15 May 2019. The recipient is the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE), Costa Rica’s national electricity company, which built, owns and operates Reventazón.

The project achieved proven best practice its management of communications and consultation, resettlement, public health, biodiversity and invasive species, and waste, noise and air quality, according to an assessment using the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol.

Richard Taylor, Chief Executive of the International Hydropower Association (IHA), said: “The winner of the 2019 IHA Blue Planet Prize, Reventazón, demonstrated remarkable sustainability performance across a range of performance criteria, meeting or exceeding international good practice in all 19 assessment topics. The hydropower project is a worthy recipient of the IHA Blue Planet Prize and is an example of many stakeholders working together to achieve a common goal.”

The hydropower plant is located on the Reventazón river in Limón province, 50 kilometres upstream of the Caribbean Sea. It was constructed between 2010 and 2016 and financed from a range of national and international organisations, including the Inter-American Development Bank and the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank Group. 

On receiving the award, Irene Cañas Díaz, President of ICE, stated: “We are grateful to the International Hydropower Association in awarding the IHA Blue Planet Prize to the Reventazón project. This proves what 70 years of acquired expertise by the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad can do, developing sustainable hydropower projects that comply with the best practices in the world”.

The judges commended the project team for identifying opportunities to improve social and environmental management, developing educational processes for associated stakeholders, and implementing measures to compensate and mitigate impacts on aquatic habitats and endangered species. 

Reventazón is one of the first hydroelectric projects in Latin America to use a river offset approach, in order to develop hydropower potential while avoiding development in other free-flowing rivers. It shows how hydropower projects can make a significant contribution to biodiversity conservation at regional and basin levels.

The assessment was conducted by a team of independent accredited assessors using the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol, with financial and technical support from the World Bank Group. This involved 90 interviews with relevant stakeholders and a review of over 470 related project documents.

Ruth Tiffer Sotomayor, Senior Environmental Specialist at the World Bank, who led the team that applied the assessment protocol in Reventazón commented: “We are happy to have supported Costa Rica in the first application of the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol in the Central America region.  We hope this award can motivate other countries and companies across regions to follow the best international practices that the protocol recognises for reducing impacts on people and the environment.

“This is an important award for ICE, its staff and Costa Rica, and an excellent example from the public sector of a small Latin American country to the world that we can do better hydropower, which is more inclusive and environmentally sensitive,” she added.

The Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol was developed through 30 months of cross-sector engagement between 2007 and 2010, and is aligned with World Bank Safeguard Policies and the IFC Performance Standards. 

More information about Reventazón and its assessment is available on www.hydrosustainability.org.

About IHA

The International Hydropower Association (IHA) is a non-profit membership organisation committed to sustainable hydropower. Our mission is to advance sustainable hydropower by building and sharing knowledge on its role in renewable energy systems, responsible freshwater management and climate change solutions. We achieve this through sector monitoring, advancing strategies that strengthen performance, and building an open, innovative and trusted platform for knowledge.

IHA is a champion of good practices and continuous improvement in the hydropower community. We support project assessments, and training for independent assessors as the management body for the Hydropower Sustainability Tools, comprising:
•    The Hydropower Sustainability Guidelines on Good International Industry Practice
•    The Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol
•    The Hydropower Sustainability ESG Gap Analysis Tool

Learn more: www.hydropower.org 

IHA Blue Planet Prize

For a hydropower project to be considered for the IHA Blue Planet Prize, it must have undergone an official assessment under the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol. Applications are judged by a panel composed of experts selected by the IHA Board. The prize was awarded to seven projects between 2001 and 2017:

  • Blanda hydropower project, Iceland (2017)
  • Andhikhola hydel and rural electrification scheme, Nepal (2005)
  • Arrow Lakes power plant, Canada (2005)
  • Sechelt Creek power plant, Canada (2005)
  • Salto Caxias project, Brazil (2003)
  • Palmiet pumped storage scheme, South Africa (2003)
  • King River hydropower development, Tasmania, Australia (2001)

Media Contact

Will Henley
Head of Communications
International Hydropower Association
t:  +44 7507 661 755
e:  will.henley@hydropower.org

15 May 2019

The International Hydropower Association (IHA) has today launched technical guidance to help the hydropower industry to become more resilient to the impacts of climate change.

The Hydropower Sector Climate Resilience Guide will support investors, owners and developers to make informed decisions about how to plan, build, upgrade and operate hydropower systems in the face of increasingly variable climatic and hydrological conditions.

Launched at the World Hydropower Congress in Paris on 15 May 2015, the guide introduces an innovative methodology for assessing climate risks and identifying corresponding climate resilience measures.

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Departing from traditional approaches that rely on historical information about past climatic and hydrological conditions, the guide provides a practical framework for assessing the projected impacts of climate change on hydropower systems. This includes guidance for selecting appropriate measures and operational procedures that build climate resilience across a range of scenarios, and for the development of a climate risk management plan.

Announcing the new guide, IHA Chief Executive Richard Taylor said: “The hydropower sector is part of the solution to climate change, providing clean, renewable electricity and vital freshwater management to help communities manage the impacts of extreme weather events such as floods and droughts.

“While providing essential adaptation services, hydropower facilities are not immune to the changing climate. This guide offers new international good practice guidance to help project operators and developers identify, assess and manage climate risks to enhance the resilience of proposed and existing hydropower projects.”

The guide was developed by IHA with technical and financial support provided by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the World Bank Group (WBG) and its Korea Green Growth Trust Fund (KGGTF).

It is intended for hydropower projects of all types, scales and geographies, and suitable for upgrade and greenfield projects. The six-phase methodology looks at climate risk screening, data analysis, climate stress testing, climate risk management, and monitoring, evaluation and reporting.

“Greater investment in hydropower is needed as part of the transition towards low-carbon and climate-resilient energy systems” said Craig Davies, Head of Climate Resilience Investments at the EBRD. “This guide will play an important role in helping financial institutions to scale up both the quantity and the quality of their investment in climate-resilient hydropower.”

“The World Bank Group welcomes the international hydropower industry’s Hydropower Sector Climate Resilience Guide,” said Pravin Karki, Global Lead Hydropower and Dams at WBG. “Climate risks, if not adequately addressed in planning and operations, could drastically undermine hydropower investments. There is an urgent need to actively prepare for the resiliency of hydropower assets in the face of increased frequency of extreme weather events and rapid changes in hydrological patterns to reduce the risk of climate-related disruptions.”

“The World Bank Group works to ensure that its hydropower and other energy investments are adapted to climate change, and create financial mechanisms to encourage upfront investments in resilient hydropower infrastructure,” he continued.

To download the Hydropower Sector Climate Resilience Guide, visit: hydropower.org/climateresilienceguide

 

Notes for Editors:

The IHA Hydropower Sector Climate Resilience Guide was developed over a three-year period in consultation with major hydropower developers, owners and operators, intergovernmental and not-for-profit organisations, international consultancies and independent experts.

Throughout 2018 and early 2019, several hydropower projects tested the draft guide and provided feedback on its applicability. Projects involved in the testing were: Drin River Hydropower Cascade, Albania; Jirau Hydropower Plant, Brazil; Kabeli A Hydroelectric Project, Nepal; Mpatamanga Hydropower Project, Malawi; Nenskra Hydropower Project, Georgia; Romaine Hydropower Complex, Canada; and Qairokkum Hydropower Plant, Tajikistan.

Learn more about the International Hydropower Association's climate resilience knowledge building programme.

For further information, please contact María Ubierna, IHA Hydropower Specialist and Knowledge Building Team Focal Point (mu@hydropower.org)

 

About IHA

The International Hydropower Association (IHA) is a non-profit membership organisation committed to sustainable hydropower. Our mission is to advance sustainable hydropower by building and sharing knowledge on its role in renewable energy systems, responsible freshwater management and climate change solutions. We achieve this through sector monitoring, advancing strategies that strengthen performance, and building an open, innovative and trusted platform for knowledge.

The World Hydropower Congress, 14-16 May 2019, has brought together representatives of industry, government, finance, civil society and academia from more than 70 countries to set priorities for the hydropower sector. Under the theme ‘The Power of Water in a Sustainable, Interconnected World’, the congress explores hydropower’s role in delivering on the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals. For highlights from the first two days of the congress, visit: www.hydropower.org/congress

 

Media Contact

Will Henley
Head of Communications
International Hydropower Association
t:  +44 7507 661 755
e:  will.henley@hydropower.org

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