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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. 




New September 2021 date announced 

One year from now, in September 2021, we will bring together the world’s leading hydropower change-makers to decide priorities for the sector. 

The World Hydropower Congress is the leading international forum for innovators, experts and policy-makers to shape better energy strategies, influence smarter investment decisions and deliver international good practice.  

In 2021, the Congress will be a hybrid event hosted throughout the month, under the theme ‘Renewables working together’. 

For the first time in the event’s history, delegates from around the world will participate in online sessions across multiple timezones, culminating in an in-person summit in Costa Rica on 23-24 September. 

With a focus on green stimulus packages, the 2021 Congress presents an unprecedented opportunity to discuss how sustainable hydropower can contribute to building back better to deliver on energy, water and climate targets. 

The event will bring together senior representatives from governments, international organisations, financial institutions, research, non-governmental organisations and business to accelerate the pathway to a zero-carbon future. 

The 2021 World Hydropower Congress is organised by the International Hydropower Association (IHA) and hosted by Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE), Costa Rica’s electricity services provider, and the Government of Costa Rica.  

Join us for high-level plenary sessions, focus sessions and workshops on: 

  • Advancing clean energy 
  • Tackling climate change  
  • Achieving sustainability 
  • Incentivising investments  
  • Integrating smarter tech 
  • Managing water 

Register your interest in attending or partnering

31 August 2020

Hydropower stations constructed decades ago across Asia are in need of significant investment and upgrades to enhance their critical contribution to the region’s clean energy goals, according to new research.

A study conducted by the International Hydropower Association (IHA) for the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) identified 66 hydropower stations across 19 countries that could be ripe for modernisation, at an estimated investment value of up to US$13.7bn.


The study was carried out to provide a better understanding of the scale of modernisation needs available across the region. Potential projects range from rehabilitating existing infrastructure to improve efficiency, climate resilience and safety, to expanding a station’s capacity to meet increasing electricity demand and support the integration of variable renewables.

Asia is home to around half the world’s installed hydropower capacity, at almost 650 GW. Hydropower is therefore a major contributor to the region’s electricity mix, accounting for around 14 per cent of total annual electricity generation. Countries such as Afghanistan, Bhutan, Cambodia, Georgia, the Kyrgyz Republic, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal and Tajikistan rely on hydropower for over half of annual generation. 

IHA has estimated that more than a third of the continent’s capacity will require, or have undergone, modernisation by 2030. Excluding China, which has a larger proportion of newer hydropower plants, this figure rises to around half of existing capacity.

The new research from AIIB and IHA, conducted over an eight-month period, found the countries with most hydropower capacity in need of modernisation and further investigation are India and Turkey.  


The main drivers behind the need for hydropower modernisation range from upgrading ageing equipment, to improving energy performance, reducing environmental impacts, and complementing renewables like solar and wind.

Nicholas Troja, IHA Senior Analyst, commented: “Over the coming decade, the region's need for reliable and sustainable energy will grow immensely. If properly managed and invested in strategically, hydropower’s existing capacity will form the backbone of this energy transition and be essential in meeting the objectives set out in both the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.”

“IHA is pleased to have collaborated with AIIB on this important study and we look forward to future joint initiatives to further support modernisation across the hydropower sector in Asia,” he added.

Modernisation options include retrofitting ageing turbines and other equipment with state-of-the-art technology, and digitalising operations with installing new smart controls, intelligent condition monitoring and remotely operated systems. Other options include adding floating solar photovoltaics (PV) to an existing reservoir or developing solar-hydro hybrids that save on land and grid connection costs.

The decision to upgrade a plant will often be influenced by a range of factors, including electricity prices and market design, as the study explains. It stresses the need for governments to develop enabling policies to encourage investment, otherwise they risk having to decommission ageing hydropower stations and losing reliable, renewable generation capacity.

The study was completed in March 2020 and also involved a high-level cost benchmarking exercise to help inform understanding of investment cost ranges for modernisation. The AIIB working paper published this week presents a condensed version of IHA’s final report. This working paper was authored by David Morgado from AIIB and Nicholas Troja, Amina Kadyrzhanova and David Samuel from IHA. 

The 19 countries covered are Azerbaijan, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

Learn more about IHA's work on improving hydropower asset management and modernisation including a study in Latin America with the Inter-American Development Bank.

Read the AIIB-IHA working paper. Read the AIIB blog on The Growing Need for Hydropower Modernisation in Asia.

Contact Nicholas Troja at for more information.

25 August 2020

The Dibwangui hydropower project in Gabon has been rated as an example of international good practice in sustainability design and planning, following an independent assessment. 

Plans for the 15 megawatt plant in the central African country achieved globally recognised good practice across 11 environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance criteria examined in the study.


Figure: Aerial plan of proposed Dibwangui project from the assessment report  

When completed, the hydroelectric plant in Ngounié province will power the country’s south-west region and support local rural communities currently without electricity. The Dibwangui project is being developed by Louetsi Hydro, a special purpose vehicle of Eranove Group and the Gabonese Strategic Investment Fund (FGIS). 

The assessment was undertaken using the Hydropower Sustainability ESG Gap Analysis Tool, an innovative new tool which identifies and addresses any gaps against good practice. Assessment criteria include environmental and social management, community impacts, biodiversity, climate change, labour conditions, and communications and consultation.

This is the first time a project in Africa has published an assessment using the tool, which was developed by the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Council, a group of civil society, governments, industry and financial institutions, together with the International Hydropower Association (IHA).


Alain Kilajian, Sustainability Specialist at IHA, said: “Hydropower projects help countries to increase access to electricity while delivering on social and economic development priorities. With this new assessment tool, it is now possible to determine whether these projects are being planned and built responsibly and sustainably in accordance with international standards. Eranove Group deserve credit for commissioning this independent, rigorous and transparent report.”

Responding to the assessment, Eranove Group CEO Marc Albérola said: “The results of this evaluation confirm Eranove Group's commitment to the sustainable operation of its hydropower facilities. Hydropower is an energy source which meets the dual imperative of being competitive and low carbon. This study confirms the Dibwangui project’s compliance with good environmental and social practices that we have delivered together with the Gabonese Strategic Investment Fund. I thank FGIS for its trust.”

Gabonese Minister of Water, Forests, the Sea and the Environment, Professor Lee White, stated: "We are proud that a Gabonese hydroelectric project is the first in French-speaking Africa to be audited using the ESG tool. I salute the commitment of the FGIS-Eranove Group, which is taking a further step towards sustainable hydroelectricity in Gabon and Africa.”

Alain Claude Bilie-By-Nzé, Gabon's Minister of State for Energy and Water Resources, added: “As part of the Paris Climate Agreement, Gabon has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 per cent by 2025 by initiating an energy transition focused mainly on hydropower. The Dibwangui power plant is one of these projects. It will make it possible to sustainably meet the energy needs of isolated communities while contributing to the development of the economic fabric of Ngounié and the well-being of the local population.” 

In the study, independent assessor Margaret Trias determined the project team had carefully engaged nearby communities during planning and development and the consultation process was open and transparent. “What the project has done really well is to establish an excellent relationship with nearby communities throughout its pre-feasibility and feasibility stages,” she said.

“The project includes restoring an existing electrical distribution line that has not been in service for many years and which was high on the communities’ list of priorities. As they have no access to electricity, this was something the project had not initially envisaged but that eventually became one of its benefits. When speaking to the community members you had a sense of their pride in showing you around and explaining what the project would look like,” she added.

The assessment between September and October 2019 involved reviewing project plans and interviewing the developer, local community members, national and local government authorities and The Nature Conservancy NGO. 

The report is publicly available (in French) on the website.

Learn more about sustainability in hydropower:

To enquire about the assessment process, please contact


Hydropower Sustainability Tools

The Hydropower Sustainability Tools were developed by the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Council, a governing council representing industry, government, financial institutions and social and environmental NGOs. The tools are published by IHA as the council’s secretariat.

The tools comprise:



IHA is delighted to welcome new Head of Policy Alex Campbell. Alex has extensive experience in energy policy.

He was previously head of contracts for Difference Policy, the UK Government's flagship renewable electricity deployment scheme.

Other experience includes roles leading the UK's engagement with multi-national civil nuclear bodies, designing the regulatory framework for smart meters in Britain and supporting the development of onshore wind. He holds an MSc in Climate Change and an MA in International Political Economy. 



Mr Campbell said:"Sustainable hydropower has a key role to play in tackling dangerous climate change and supporting the economic development of communities across the globe. I'm very excited to be joining IHA at such an important and challenging time." 

IHA CEO Eddie Rich added: “Alex’s wealth of experience, enterprise and commitment will strengthen IHA’s ability to advance sustainable hydropower to help tackle climate change – the biggest challenge of our generation. He brings credibility, contacts and knowledge. We are delighted to have him join the team.”