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1 October 2018 

With benefits including reduced operation and maintenance costs, and enhanced data analysis and project management, the digitalisation of hydropower projects and their control systems is a growing trend in the industry.

A recent workshop organised by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) with support from the International Hydropower Association (IHA) explored how digital systems are advancing the operations, maintenance and modernisation of hydropower projects.


The workshop explored how digital systems are advancing the operations, maintenance and modernisation of hydropower projects.

Hosted by the Joint Technical Commission of Salto Grande between 27 and 28 August 2018 at the Salto Grande hydroelectric complex, a major binational hydropower project on the Uruguay River between Argentina and Uruguay, the workshop looked at how to plan and implement digitalisation processes into hydropower projects. More than 130 people attended including representatives of IHA member and partner organisations based in South America, North and Central America, Asia and Europe.

“This workshop was a great opportunity to start a dialogue about the digitalisation of hydropower in Latin America, where hydro still provides around half of the electricity,” said Arturo Alarcón, Senior Regional Energy Specialist at IDB. “Digitalisation is the new reality for the sector. The faster we embrace it, the sooner we will get its benefits.”

Research by IHA forecasts that, by 2030, over half of the world’s hydropower plants will be due for upgrade and modernisation or will have already been renovated.

“Digitalisation provides an opportunity to optimise the design, development and operation of hydropower assets,” said IHA’s Chief Executive Richard Taylor. “It was great to bring together so many IHA members to share their experience and plans – the workshop was a hugely valuable forum to learn about the opportunities digitalisation can bring to the sector.”

One of the participants, Nuno Guedes, Area Director at Energias de Portugal (EDP), spoke about a recent contract signed with GE for a five-year asset management and digitalisation programme at several EDP hydropower plants in Portugal and Spain. “With these digital tools we expect to have more capability of analysing the data of these plants and to better decide how to invest and control their lifecycles,” he said.

Workshop participants had the chance to visit the Salto Grande hydroelectric complex. The project’s operator has been reviewing how new digital technology can provide performance improvements for the plant, which has been in operation since 1982.

The IHA-IDB workshop is part of a series of events leading up to the 2019 World Hydropower Congress between 14-16 May 2019.

IHA also addressed digitalisation, climate change and sustainability at a workshop in Paris, France, on 19 September 2018. To find out more, visit the event webpage.

Last week IDB and IHA signed a partnership agreement to support sustainable development involving hydropower across Latin America and the Caribbean. Read more.

13 September 2018

Experienced professionals working in the hydropower community can now apply to become a Fellow of the International Hydropower Association (IHA).

IHA, a not-for-profit organisation committed to advancing sustainable hydropower, is launching Fellow membership to acknowledge the valuable contributions of professionals at the forefront of the sector’s development.

IHA Fellows (left to right) Gil Maranhão Neto F.IHA, Chief Strategy, Communications and CSR Officer at Engie Brasil; Christine Cantin F.IHA, Senior Advisor at Hydro-Québec; and Moisés Machava F.IHA, Executive Director of Hydroélectrica de Cahora Bassa.
Announcing the new initiative, Richard Taylor, Chief Executive of IHA, said: “Since IHA was formed more than 20 years ago we have championed continuous improvement and sustainable practices in the hydropower sector. In offering Fellow membership, we are seeking to recognise senior professionals who, through their service and commitment, have moved the sector forward and been an inspiration to others.”
IHA Fellow status, under which an individual is entitled to use the letters ‘F.IHA’ as a professional title, is awarded on the basis of proven experience and provides an opportunity to join a global network of hydropower experts from all regions of the world.

Fellows of IHA will have the opportunity to contribute their wealth of knowledge, experience and ideas to IHA’s work and programmes, in support of its mission to advance sustainable hydropower, and will receive invitations to special events including dedicated online groups, expert panels and webinars.
To qualify, an individual must share a commitment to the values and mission of IHA and have at least five years’ experience in a senior management position in the hydropower sector, or 10 years’ experience in a specialist field relating to hydropower. The individual must be a current member of IHA.
Applicants are required to submit an application form summarising how their professional experience meets the eligibility criteria. The individual must also provide two supporting professional referees. There is no fee for Fellow membership: F.IHA status is awarded on merit alone.
To find out more and to apply to become a Fellow of IHA, visit

5 September 2018

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the International Hydropower Association (IHA) have signed a partnership agreement to support sustainable development involving hydropower across Latin America and the Caribbean.

The memorandum of understanding agreed by the heads of the two organisations seeks to expand opportunities for the exchange and adoption of good industry practices with the goal of enhancing the technical, social, economic and environmental performance of new and existing projects.  


The joint IDB-IHA workshop was attended by more than 130 people, including representatives from over ten IHA member organisations from Asia, Europe, North America and South America.

The IDB provides loans, grants and technical assistance for major renewable energy projects and champions research into climate change and sustainability, innovation and social inclusion.

IHA is an international non-profit association established under the auspices of UNESCO. With members in more than 100 countries, the association’s mission is to advance sustainable hydropower by building and sharing knowledge renewable energy systems, freshwater management and climate change solutions.

On signing the agreement, IDB´s Infrastructure and Energy Sector Manager Agustin Aguerre said: "One of the key drivers for this collaboration is that both institutions have a strong focus on supporting sustainable development. The focus in this particular case is hydropower. We are thrilled to work with IHA in the development of solutions, programmes and the advancement of hydropower as one of the cleanest energy sources that will foster the Latin American and the Caribbean’s advancement.”

IHA Chief Executive Richard Taylor said: “IHA is delighted to partner with the Inter-American Development Bank. The bank was an important voice in the development of the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol, the internationally recognised tool for assessing hydropower’s performance. This new agreement will expand opportunities for collaboration and knowledge sharing and support the adoption of good practices in the planning, financing, development, operation and modernisation of hydropower projects.”

The partnership agreement follows a joint IDB-IHA international workshop which was held last week to build knowledge on how digital systems are advancing hydropower operations, maintenance and modernisation in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The workshop on 27 and 28 August was hosted by the Joint Technical Commission of Salto Grande, a major binational hydropower project on the Uruguay River between Argentina and Uruguay. To find out more please visit the event webpage

The role of digital systems in advancing hydropower operations will be on the agenda of the World Hydropower Congress, to be held in Paris between 14 and 16 May 2019. The conference is organised in partnership with UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme. Register your interest at

27 July 2018

The first global review of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) on water and energy took place at a recent high-level United Nations forum in New York, USA. 

The 2018 UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development saw 47 countries carry out voluntary national reviews of several SDGs, including SDGs 6 and 7.


Despite adoption of the SDGs in 2015, the world still faces a water and energy crisis, with more than a billion people lacking access to electricity and over two billion without safely managed water services.

Richard Taylor, Chief Executive of the International Hydropower Association (IHA), said: “Meeting the SDGs on water and energy can only be realised if we build clean energy systems, manage freshwater responsibly and deliver climate change solutions. If we work on SDGs 6 and 7 in an integrated way, there’s a good chance we will achieve all our sustainability goals.”

Integrated approaches for water and energy to help achieve the SDGs was the focus of a seminar hosted by the Sustainable Water and Energy Solutions Partnership, a new initiative between UN DESA and IHA platinum member Itaipu Binacional.

Participants discussed the need for holistic implementation of water and energy solutions and shared ideas, innovations, programmes, partnerships and business models.

The Sustainable Water and Energy Solutions Partnership was launched in March to find solutions to the world’s pressing energy and water challenges. It will work over an initial four-year period to promote water and energy sustainability, as well as other SDGs in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

IHA’s Richard Taylor sits on the partnership’s steering committee, which met for the first time during the forum, alongside representatives from UN DESA, Itaipu Binacional, governments, businesses, civil society and international organisations.

The sixth annual United Nations High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, titled ‘Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies’, took place between 9 and 18 July.

Alongside water and energy, the forum looked at goal 11, sustainable cities and communities; goal 12, responsible consumption and production; goal 15, life on land; and goal 17, partnerships for the goals.

Find out more about the 2018 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development online.

25 July 2018

We were deeply saddened to hear of the major flood incident at the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy project in Laos on Monday night. We are monitoring the situation closely. Our thoughts are with everyone affected and all those involved in the recovery and relief effort.

IHA will be working rigorously with partners to understand and share knowledge about this incident. As a first step, we are sharing the information known to IHA at this stage.

The Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy project

On Monday 23 July, one of the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy project’s saddle dams failed and caused severe flooding into the Xe-Pian River, affecting several villages in the Sanamxay district. Detailed investigations by authorities and SK Engineering & Construction, the lead company responsible for building the dam, are still underway.

Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy Power Company (PNPC), the owner of the project, is a joint venture between SK Engineering & Construction, Korea Western Power, Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding and Lao Holding State Enterprise.

Underpinning the financing of the project was a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) between PNPC and the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, which would see 90 per cent of electricity exported to Thailand. The remaining 10 per cent is part of a PPA between PNPC and Électricité du Laos. Under the terms of development, the project is intended to become the property of the Laotian government after 27 years.

Hydropower in Laos and regional interconnections

Laos has 4,984 MW of installed hydropower capacity and generated an estimated 22.7 TWh last year. It has a much larger theoretical potential of around 26.5 GW.

Laos continues to expand its generating capacity with an increasing emphasis on regional integration. Over 50 new hydropower projects are under consideration across the country, representing 8,000 MW of additional capacity if all were to be realised. Several projects totalling 166 MW were commissioned in 2017.

Driven by strong economic growth, energy demand in Southeast Asia has grown by 60 per cent over the past 15 years. According to the International Energy Agency, the region is expected to grow by a further 60 per cent by 2040.

Laos is a key power exporter to the Southeast Asia region. Currently, Laos sells its electricity to Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia and Vietnam. Thailand is its main market, requiring up to 9,000 MW capacity by 2025. Laos is looking to expand its sales to Malaysia via Thailand’s electrical interconnection, and then to Singapore through Malaysia. In the first nine months of 2017, Laos exported 19 TWh of electricity, worth about USD 975 million. This was an increase of 25 per cent compared with the same period in 2016.

Laos transmits electricity into Thailand at various locations, including from the Nam Theun 2 hydropower station (1,090 MW), through an interconnection at the Thai border near Savannakhet, and at further connections to the northeast of Thailand. Theun Hinboun hydropower station (440 MW) exports electricity through transmission lines in south central Laos into Thailand, and the Nam Ngum hydropower stations (Phase 1 is 155 MW and Phase 2 is 615 MW) export electricity further to the north.

Hydropower stations are also connected to Vietnam’s electricity grid, with interconnections in the south of Laos fed by the Xekaman Phase 1 (290 MW) and Phase 3 (250 MW) stations.

IHA has offered collaboration to Laos on sharing relevant experience within its international network of members and partners, and stands ready to support the government and all organisations involved in hydropower development and operations.