Better Markets for Hydropower: Valuing Hydropower Sustainability

Newest member of IHA calls for better market incentives at the World Hydropower Congress

Speaking in Bali at the 2023 World Hydropower Congress, Helen Barbour-Bourne of Australian company GHD called for a full-picture approach to valuing investments in pumped storage hydropower. “We need to value sustainability and life-cycle CO2 emissions from a market perspective when assessing comparative storage technologies. It's not sufficient to rely solely on CAPEX and revenue as metrics for capacity investments, especially in a world where we are rapidly trying to decarbonize," she said.

"Between 65% to 70% of the CAPEX for a pumped storage project will be spent within the local economy and supply chain, engaging indigenous communities and re-skilling our workforce away from heavy carbon industries. This local investment is three times more than that of comparative storage technologies. Additionally, the embedded carbon in pumped storage, which is amortized over its lifecycle, is also a crucial metric when comparing to batteries and other storage technologies."

"The launch of the Hydropower Sustainability Alliance and the IHA’s sustainability standard will be vital tools for comparing these metrics globally and will provide financiers with confidence in their sustainable long-term investments in hydropower."

Discussions on better markets for hydropower development took place in the context of the World Hydropower Congress, hosted by the Government of Indonesia, the PLN and the International Hydropower Association (IHA). GHD participated in the World Hydropower Congress as the newest member of IHA.

Commenting on the decision to join IHA, Malcolm Rushin, Australian Future Energy Leader, GHD said: “As the global energy transition accelerates, sustainable hydropower development has a key role as a linchpin, providing the deep storage needed to bridge the gap between renewable potential and reliable energy supply. At GHD we believe hydropower will play a leading role in de-risking the energy transition and shaping a sustainable energy landscape for generations to come,”

“We are committed to developing projects that embed sustainable hydropower solutions, embrace innovative technological advancements and foster responsible practices. Adhering to robust industry standards as IHA is advocating is a critical part of this.”

Eddie Rich, CEO of IHA said: “GHD understands that we need to raise our collective voices to ensure that markets incentivise investments in sustainable hydropower or we will not meet net-zero targets. As an innovative engineering services company, I am delighted to welcome GHD to the IHA family.”

GHD is a professional services company that supports communities globally by solving the world’s greatest challenges in water, energy and urbanisation, among other sectors, with more than 160 offices across five continents. Established in 1928, the firm has delivered positive social and economic outcomes through engineering, construction and architectural expertise for decades.




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