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20 April 2020

Policy-makers and planners around the world need to "start thinking now" about building new hydropower projects, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) said in a report published today.


Writing in the Global Renewables Outlook, IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera urges stimulus and recovery packages as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic and to “accelerate the shift to sustainable, decarbonised economies and resilient inclusive societies”.

Recovery measures should include investment in “interconnected hydropower” among other technologies, La Camera says. “With the need for energy decarbonisation unchanged, such investments can safeguard against short-sighted decisions and greater accumulation of stranded assets."

The Global Renewables Outlook report says that "hydropower can bring important synergies to the energy system of the future" thanks to its multiple uses and synergies with other renewable energy technologies.

Under IRENA’s Transforming Energy Scenario, hydropower capacity will need to increase 25% by 2030, and 60% by 2050, while pumped hydro storage capacity would need to double. When including both types of hydropower, around 850 GW of newly installed capacity is required in the next 30 years – roughly the same as the entire power system capacity of the European Union.

The report continues: “Increasing hydropower capacity does not specifically entail only building new dams: options also exist to upgrade turbines and systems in existing plants, utilise run-of-river designs and electrify non-power dams.

“Yet for new hydropower plants, planners need to consider local environmental impacts, and engage in discussions with communities in the impacted areas. Hydropower plants will also need operational changes that reflect changing power system needs, including faster and more frequent ramping, and planning practices that include evaluating the impacts of climate change on water supply and reservoir storage requirements.

“Due to longer planning cycles for new hydropower dam construction, policy makers and planners need to start thinking now about new projects. For existing dams, investments are needed to modernise old hydro plants.”

The International Hydropower Association (IHA) is a leading member of IRENA's Coalition for Action, which was formed to promote the wider and faster uptake of renewable energy technologies. The coalition brings together private sector companies, industry associations, civil society, research institutes and intergovernmental organisations.

IHA Chief Executive Eddie Rich said: "In order to meet the climate change commitments set in the Paris Agreement in 2015, hydropower needs to grow much faster. This requires determined and enabling policy, market restructuring to better incentivise energy storage, and a step change in technical integration capability globally."

17 April 2020 

The International Hydropower Association's Chief Executive Eddie Rich said the hydropower sector needed to have plans ready for a post-Covid 19 economic stimulus in a videocast.

“We anticipate future economic stimulus packages, which will provide unprecedented opportunities to focus on renewable and sustainable energy infrastructure,” he said.

To be ready to take advantage of these opportunities, Eddie advised members to:

1. Have shovel-ready projects in place for the post-Covid 19 economic stimulus plans.

2. Make sure your projects have been assessed against the Hydropower Sustainability Tools.

3. Demonstrate renewable coordination through hybrid projects, such as solar PV or pumped storage alongside solar or wind power.



16 April 2020

An innovative environmental stewardship scheme from Brookfield Renewable and Canada’s First Nation ‘Namgis community is helping to safeguard local fish species in British Columbia.



The Kokish hydroelectric facility is located on northeastern Vancouver Island, on Canada’s Pacific coast. The run-of-river facility is owned and operated by Kwagis Power, a collaboration between Brookfield Renewable Partners and the ‘Namgis First Nation.

Commissioned in 2014, Kokish has an installed capacity of 45 MW, generating enough clean renewable energy to power 13,000 homes annually.

One of the standout features of the hydropower project, apart from its unique collaboration with the ‘Namgis First Nation, has been its commitment to environmental stewardship involving the design of new ‘fish-first’ technologies.

“Respecting the environment was a priority during construction and its subsequent operation,” says Richard St-Jean, Vice-President for Generation Management at Brookfield Renewable, which is a member of the International Hydropower Association (IHA).

“Great care was taken not only to protect, but also to enhance the fish habitat and fisheries resources in the Kokish River watershed,” says St-Jean. “In fact, project planning began in 2004 and was followed by years of studying the river system, gathering data and preparing engineering and environmental plans.”

The Kokish River is home to Coho, Chinook, Chum, Pink and Sockeye salmon, as well as to Cutthroat, Steelhead and Rainbow trout, all important species for the ‘Namgis First Nation who have relied on these species for food throughout history.

To ensure that fish could continue to migrate, and to minimise the impact on the environment, the innovative design of the facility included a fish ladder, which allows fish to swim upstream, and an elaborate Coanda screen designed and tested to prevent fish from entering the intake box. These features ensure the safe passage of fish both upstream and downstream.

According to St-Jean, the Kokish project is “not only a model of how sustainable engineering can effectively eliminate and environmental impacts, it is also a great example of how the public, First Nations communities and the private sector can collaborate and work on a renewable power project that improves our energy infrastructure.”

Since operation, the project has won several environmental and social responsibility and engineering awards, including the 2019 Clean Energy BC Environmental Stewardship Award, as well as the 2015 Social Responsibility Award from the Canadian Electricity Association and the 2015 Award of Excellence of the Canadian Consulting Engineering Awards.

“The Kokish project is one of the most environmentally complex run-of-river hydroelectric projects that I have worked on since starting in this industry over a decade ago,” says Ian Murphy, Project Manager for Ecofish Research, a leading environmental consultancy.

“In my opinion, the application of a diligent, science-based approach was the key to successfully overcoming complex environmental challenges that were faced by the project team.”

The project is also well-received by the ‘Namgis First Nation, whose livelihoods and cultural heritage have been respected as a result.

“The health and well-being of our lands, waters and wildlife is always priority for ‘Namgis,” says Bill Cranmer, Chief of the ‘Namgis First Nation.

“I am proud and confident of the work we have done on this project. I believe that we have embarked on a strong economic opportunity for the north island, that will ultimately prove to enhance and protect all species of fish who call Kokish home.”

For more information on this project, download Brookfield Renewable’s 2019 ESG Report

Quick Facts: Kokish hydropower plant

  • Design: Run-of-River with a 9.2km Penstock from the Intake to the Powerhouse

  • Gross head: 240 m

  • Design Flow: 25 m3/s

  • Turbines: 4 x 11.25 MW Pelton (Impulse)

  • Installed Capacity: 45 MW

  • Annual Net Energy: 138 GWh

  • Construction completed: 2014 



New deadline for applications is 1 June 2020

6 April 2020 – The deadline for the Hydropower Sustainability ESG Assessment Fund announced in February has been extended to 1 June 2020.

The decision comes as a response to the general disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“In a moment where we all had to make adjustments in our personal lives and professional activities, we understand a deadline extension is fair for all applicants. This will hopefully give everyone more time to plan, prepare and submit proposals,” said Joao Costa, Senior Sustainability Specialist at IHA.


All criteria of the initial Call for Proposal are upheld, and assessments can be conducted any time up to 31 December 2021.

The fund was launched to aid hydropower project developers and operators in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas to benchmark and raise their social and environmental performance.

Under the initiative, a total of 1 million Swiss Francs (USD 1.02m) will be awarded to 40 or more hydropower projects between 2020 and 2024.

Successful recipients will receive a grant to part-finance the cost of commissioning an independent project assessment using the Hydropower Sustainability ESG Gap Analysis Tool (HESG), a tool based on the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol and governed by a multi-stakeholder coalition of NGOs, governments, banks and multilateral institutions.

The scheme is managed by the International Hydropower Association’s sustainability division and funded by Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

The first tranche of funding of CHF 250,000 in 2020 will be made available for eligible projects in the following countries: Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Colombia, Egypt, Ghana, Indonesia, Kosovo, Kyrgyz Republic, North Macedonia, Peru, Serbia, South Africa, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

Projects under preparation and development, as well as those already in operation, are all eligible for the grant. Applicants will need to demonstrate a strong track record or commitment to sustainability and show that their project aligns with national or regional development policies.

Learn about the Hydropower Sustainability ESG Gap Analysis Tool and how to apply to the fund:

Find out more:


2 April 2020

The next United Nations climate conference (COP26), to be hosted by the UK government in November 2020, has been postponed due to the worldwide effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the organisers have said

The International Hydropower Association (IHA), an official observer organisation, recognises the need for this unprecedented decision, which will see the summit rescheduled to an as-yet-unconfirmed date in 2021.


In a statement, IHA Chief Executive Eddie Rich said: “Given the present global health and economic situation, the organisers of COP26 have made the right decision to postpone this year’s conference. 

“While Covid-19 is our most pressing threat, with the tragic impacts on families everywhere requiring urgent action, we must not lose sight of the existential threat to the planet posed by climate change. The tireless efforts currently being deployed to beat Coronavirus show us that, in times of crisis, the seemingly impossible can quickly become possible.

“The worldwide response to Covid-19 will rely on government stimulus packages to kickstart national economies. These must be in line with the carbon reduction commitments made in the Paris Agreement. Investing in clean energy infrastructure will support workers, families and communities today, while helping to secure our planet’s future.

“Governments, business and civil society stakeholders must now consider the policy frameworks required to support the green growth economy and prioritise vital public and private investment in sustainable and renewable energy projects. This will mean considering ways to incentivise finance and reduce barriers to development, while ensuring that new projects meet internationally recognised environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance standards.

“The hydropower sector, the largest contributor to total renewable electricity generation, will continue to play its part in providing climate change solutions. Sustainable hydropower will provide affordable, clean energy and will accelerate the adoption of other renewables, while safely managing freshwater supplies and protecting communities against floods and drought.

“Now, more than ever, collaboration and dialogue are needed to advance global sustainable energy and the transformation towards a low-carbon energy future. IHA, under the mandate given to us by our members to advance sustainable hydropower, will continue working vigorously with our members and partners to deliver the ambition needed to tackle present and future threats.”

Read Eddie Rich's blog on how the hydropower sector is playing a critical role during the Covid-19 pandemic.