IRENA hydropower initiative takes shape with meeting of 49 nations


Forty-nine countries are participating in a new initiative by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) to promote coordinated action, cooperation and dialogue on hydropower’s role in the clean energy transition.

More than 100 attendees from IRENA’s member countries, applicant countries and observer organisations took part in the second meeting of the Collaborative Framework on Hydropower, a forum initiated by the Swiss government, on 24 September 2020.

IRENA, which considers hydropower essential to driving the clean energy transition, established the initiative in June in response to member country requests to expand its support to the deployment of hydropower technologies.

Mr Francesco La Camera, Director-General of IRENA cited hydropower’s role as a source of power system resilience and as a way to expand the adoption of variable renewables, in his remarks to the meeting.

“As an enabler for integrating higher shares of renewable energy into power systems, hydropower is set to play an important role in the energy transition and will be critical to the decarbonisation of economies. Promoting the continued deployment of hydropower has been, and remains, an important part of IRENA’s work,” Mr La Camera said.

The meeting was chaired by Ambassador Jean-Christophe Füeg, Head of International Energy Affairs of the Swiss Federal Office of Energy. IHA and the World Bank were invited to share their views on the priorities for hydropower and how to bring public, private, intergovernmental and non-governmental actors together to exchange knowledge and identify opportunities and challenges for the sector.

Addressing the meeting on behalf of IHA’s members, who at 450 GW represent almost a third of worldwide hydropower capacity, Chief Executive Eddie Rich said: “Energy transition targets require annual investments in sustainable hydropower to increase 150 per cent by 2030 - more even than wind and solar.”

“Governments must redouble their efforts to implement sensible measures to help unlock billions of dollars of investment in sustainable hydropower development.”

During its kick-off meeting in June, member countries agreed on the scope of the Collaborative Framework, including the need to ensure the continued and sustainable development of hydropower. The meeting recognised hydropower’s relevance as a provider of flexibility and an enabler for the integration of high shares of variable renewables

In a statement on their website, IRENA noted the September virtual meeting witnessed a “high level of engagement” and that member countries have now agreed on future meetings, enabling the Collaborative Framework on hydropower to take further shape.

Founded in 2009 as an intergovernmental organisation headquartered in Abu Dhabi, IRENA supports countries in their transition to a sustainable energy future. It encourages governments to adopt enabling policies for renewable energy investments, provides practical tools and policy advice to accelerate renewable energy deployment, and facilitates knowledge sharing and technology transfer to provide clean, sustainable energy for the world’s growing population.

IHA continues to actively advocate for sustainable hydropower in IRENA as well as other international platforms and initiatives.

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