IHA president addresses ASEAN sustainability and renewable energy forum
Roger Gill, President of the International Hydropower Association (IHA), highlighted hydropower’s role in the clean energy transition at a special forum organised by Sarawak Energy.
The Sustainability and Renewable Energy Forum (SAREF 2.0) on 26 November 2021 brought together renewable energy leaders and sustainability stakeholders in the ASEAN region.
“The world is on red alert,” warned Mr Gill, “we believe that sustainable hydropower is a clean, green, modern and affordable solution to climate change and to reducing the world’s dependence on fossil fuels.
“Decarbonising electricity grids involves a shift to more renewable energy, such as wind and solar power. But this creates a significant new challenge” he continued.
“As we rely more and more on these intermittent resources, governments must make provision for backing them up with reliable, green energy storage capability.”
Hydropower as the world’s water battery
Pumped storage hydropower is the largest and only proven energy storage solution at scale, Mr Gill noted. It accounts for over 94 per cent of installed energy storage capacity.
The technology is an ideal complement to other, intermittent, renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power, to ensure the global energy grid remains flexible and reliable as the clean energy transition picks up momentum.
At the forum, Mr Gill also highlighted that “as the enabler for growth in variable renewables”, “global investment in hydropower is far short of the estimated US$100 billion a year identified as being required by the International Energy Agency (IEA).”
Declaration on Sustainable Hydropower
The San José Declaration on Sustainable Hydropower, launched at the 2021 World Hydropower Congress provides a framework for enhancing hydropower’s role in the clean energy transition. It was presented to world leaders at the United Nations Climate Conference (COP26) in November 2021.
Mr Gill highlighted the importance of the declaration at the forum: “The hydropower sector has committed to sustainability by adopting the San José Declaration” he said. This is “demonstrated by ensuring projects are certified using the newly launched Hydropower Sustainability Standard.
“The standard certification scheme will give communities governments and investors greater confidence about hydropower’s net benefits and how impacts on the local environment are mitigated.
“This means that hydropower projects can qualify for green financing, which sends an important signal to the wider market that hydropower represents a long-term, secure, sustainable investment.”
Covid-19 and net zero targets
As part of a panel discussion, the IHA President was asked about how the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the conversation about the clean energy transition.
Mr Gill concluded that there is a need for market reforms to better remunerate power system flexibility and essential grid services.
“I am hopeful about the future – we have to make net zero happen,” said Mr Gill when asked whether he was hopeful about whether the world can reach 2030 and 2050 net zero targets.
He emphasised that as the IEA estimates in its Net Zero by 2050 report, that global hydropower capacity needs to at least double by 2050 to help limit the global temperature rise to 1.5C.
Mr Gill concluded his remarks by calling on policy-makers to take a holistic approach to energy provision, and support hydropower and the ancillary services it provides to the grid.