"There is no excuse for building hydropower that is not sustainable" – Roger Gill

IHA President Roger Gill has called for the hydropower sector to make a landmark commitment to sustainable development in order to deliver its key role in supporting the energy systems of the future.

Gill’s comments came during a wide-ranging interview, which you can watch in full here:

“It's quite clear that the transition to renewables is moving at a pace,” said Gill. “The International Energy Agency is advocating dramatic upscaling of both wind and solar.

“But wind and solar alone in a power system need support,” he continued. “They need long-duration storage, and I think that's a very big role that hydropower can play in the energy mix of the future.”

San José Declaration on Sustainable Hydropower

Gill appealed for public input into the San José Declaration on Sustainable Hydropower, a landmark document that is due to be issued at the conclusion of the 2021 World Hydropower Congress on 24 September.  

A Congress Draft of the Declaration was published at the opening of the event, outlining a set of principles, recommendations and commitments to guide new developments and enhance the sector’s contribution to the energy transition.

A pioneering sustainability standard for hydropower

The 2021 World Hydropower Congress will also see the launch of the Hydropower Sustainability Standard, a groundbreaking new certification system.

The Standard will apply a recognised methodology to certify the sustainability of hydropower projects, and is the first of its kind in the renewables sector.

“The hydropower sector has faced a number of challenges over the years, and it's learnt a lot of lessons on environmental and social issues,” Gill explained. “We'd like to embody that in a Standard.  

“We need to be able to set the benchmark against which everybody can develop and operate hydropower from here on in,” he continued. “There is no excuse for building a hydropower system that is not sustainable, and the Standard will set the benchmark for us to do so.”

The Hydropower Sustainability Standard has also been underpinned by a public consultation, which closed on Monday 2 August.

Preparations for COP26

These initiatives will help to set the tone for the conversation at COP26 in November 2021, and enable the hydropower sector to deliver to its maximum potential in supporting the clean energy transition.

“I think governments have to understand that we need to plan very well for our energy systems of the future,” said Gill, concluding the interview. “Hydro can make a contribution, and to do so we have to make some decisions right now to get the support that's going to be necessary.”

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