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G-res: new tool for measuring carbon footprint of reservoirs

10 May 2017 - The G-res tool was launched today at the 2017 World Hydropower Congress in Addis Ababa. G-res enables decision-makers and stakeholders to better estimate the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the introduction of a reservoir into a landscape. 

Yves PrairieLaunched by IHA in collaboration with the UNESCO Chair for Global Environmental Change, this publicly-available, web-based tool can be used to measure net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on existing or planned reservoirs. 

GHG emissions from natural inland waters, such as streams, rivers and lakes, are significant sources of atmospheric carbon. The creation of a reservoir alters the natural flows of a water body, adding additional organic matter due to the flooding of surrounding areas, which generates carbon dioxide and methane during decomposition. Current research indicates that on average, 75 per cent of CO2 emissions observed on reservoir surfaces can be considered natural, meaning they would have occurred even if the reservoir had not been created. Methane emissions, meanwhile, present a much more significant environmental challenge. 

Accurate estimation of the emissions from reservoirs and understanding the factors that contribute to these are essential for determining the design characteristics of new reservoirs, and for explaining variability in emissions between reservoirs. The G-res tool can be used to calculate the net change in emissions that can be attributed to the creation of a reservoir. It therefore offers a reliable picture of the real environmental impact of the creation of a reservoir. 

G-res also takes into account emissions generated by reservoir construction, and by recognising the different services offered by reservoir creation, the tool allows for improved GHG accounting of associated human activities. Many reservoirs serve multiple purposes, including water supply, irrigation, hydropower, flood control, environmental management and pollution control. 

The tool builds on a conceptual framework developed by researchers from the University of Québec at Montreal (UQÀM), the Norwegian Foundation for Scientific and Industrial Research (SINTEF) and the Natural Resources Institute of Finland (LUKE). It utilises a new modelling methodology based on current scientific knowledge and over 500 empirical measurements from over 200 reservoirs worldwide. 

Find out more about the G-res tool at www.hydropower.org/gres.

Blanda hydropower project wins IHA Blue Planet Prize

The Blanda hydropower project in Iceland is the 2017 winner of the IHA Blue Planet Prize, which recognises projects that demonstrate excellence in sustainable development.

Landsvirkjun teamThe project is developed and operated by Landsvirkjun. A delegation from the company were presented with the award at the 2017 World Hydropower Congress opening dinner on Tuesday 9 May 2017.

The prize is awarded on the basis of an assessment using the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol, a tool that measures the sustainability of a hydropower project across a range of social, environmental, technical and economic aspects.

The Blanda project scored international proven best practice on 14 out of the 17 topics that were assessed. Standout successes include: 

  • excellent relations with the communities and local stakeholders
  • comprehensive social and environmental compensation measures in the form of highland re-vegetation and local infrastructure
  • social benefits provided over and above the licence requirements

You can watch a short video documentary about the Blanda project here.

Find out more about the protocol at www.hydrosustainability.org.

Find out more about the IHA Blue Planet Prize here.

Anton-Louis Olivier, Kuang Shangfu and Eduard Wojczynski win 2017 Mosonyi Award for Excellence in Hydropower

Anton-Louis Olivier of Renewable Energy Holdings,  Kuang Shangfu of the China Institute of Water Resource and Hydropower Research (IWHR) and Eduard Wojcynski of Manitoba Hydro are the winners of the 2017 Mosonyi Award for Excellence in Hydropower. 

2017 Mosonyi AwardThe award was presented at the opening dinner of the 2017 World Hydropower Congress n Addis Ababa by IHA president Ken Adams.

Mr Olivier has been a leader in the development and implementation of small-scale hydropower projects in South Africa. In 2002 he developed a vision to use water from the Lesotho High Land project to generate power. After raising funding from the Dutch Government for feasibility studies, he raise sufficient funds to construct the project. At the time, the project was a first in many ways. It was the first project of its kind to obtain a generation license, PPA and water abstraction permit under the Water Act of 1986. 

He is viewed as a pioneer in the industry in the southern African region and has helped advance the quality and the perception of small-scale hydropower, leading to a greater interest by other developers.

Dr Kuang, president of the China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research (IWHR) has spent over a decade promoting excellence in hydropower development and sustainability. He has been instrumental in facilitating the exchange of knowledge and experience not only in China but on a global scale, enabling many developing countries to improve their sustainable hydropower development. 

Under Dr Kuang’s leadership, IWHR has provided research and consultancy services to almost all of China’s key hydropower projects and a further 150 projects in more than 30 countries. He has helped to develop an extensive talent pool, and has been instrumental in establishing IWHR as both the National Research Center for Sustainable Hydropower Development under China’s National Energy Administration, and the IHA China Office

Mr Wojczynski, formerly of Manitoba Hydro, has been involved in hydropower for most of his 35-year career. He was instrumental in driving major enhancements to the planning and implementation of hydropower projects in Manitoba resulting in greater emphasis on avoiding or mitigating environmental and social impacts, and increasing benefits of hydropower with the objective of projects being welcomed as an overall benefit to communities.  

Among his many achievements, he has: improved the environmental and social characteristics of hydropower in Manitoba; supported hydropower research, climate change and lifecycle GHG analysis; and improved North American perceptions of hydropower as a preferable renewable resource and a climate change solution.

The award is named after Emil Mosonyi, the founding president of the International Hydropower Association. Prof Mosonyi, who passed away in 2009 aged 98, made major contributions to hydropower during his long career. Find out more about the award here.

IHA Young Researchers of the Year 2017 winners announced

Three candidates have been selected for the 2017 Young Researcher of the Year award, presented on Tuesday 9 May at the opening of the World Hydropower Congress in Addis Ababa. 

IHA Young Researcher of the Year 2017Alexandros Korkovelos is a young researcher at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden. His research focuses on small-scale (0.01-10 MW) hydropower potential in Sub-Saharan Africa, which he carried out in response to ongoing global dialogue on energy poverty and in view of the region’s plentiful renewable resource potential. Using open-source geospatial datasets, he was able to evaluate 712,615 km of river network over 44 countries, taking into account environmental, topological and social constrains. This resulted in the identification of 15,599 potential sites across the subcontinent, including micro and small-scale potential. 

Read Alexandros' award submission article here.

In Sara Mercier-Blais’s research, she outlines the rationale behind the G-res tool. Sara began work on this globally-important project to model greenhouse gas emissions from hydropower reservoirs after gaining an MSc in biology. The G-res tool has been developed to enable decision-makers and stakeholders to accurately measure greenhouse gas emissions from existing and planned reservoirs, ultimately empowering them to make well-informed societal, economic and environmental decisions. In her award submission, she explains how the tool can be used not only to accurately calculate net emissions from the introduction of a reservoir into the landscape, but also for understanding factors that contribute to emissions levels.

Read Sara's award submission article here.

Rafael Schmitt works at the College of Environmental Design at UC Berkeley on developing lower-impact dam portfolios and studying the optimal sequencing of dam developments in the transnational Mekong river basin. His research focuses on reducing the conflicts between hydropower and environmental objectives through basin-scale planning of dam portfolios in the world’s large river basins. He presents the CASCADE (CAtchment Sediment Connectivity and Delivery) framework, a computationally effective numerical model for network sediment transport and reservoir sediment trapping. He explains how application of CASCADE in a major tributary of the Mekong river basin, revealed that when 17,000 different dam portfolios were considered, just 60 result in an optimal trade-off between sediment trapping and hydropower production.

Read Rafael's award submission article here.

The IHA Young Researcher Award recognises emerging talent in the hydropower sector. Find out more here.

 

2017 World Hydropower Congress opens in Addis Ababa

The 2017 World Hydropower Congress opened at the United Nations Conference Center in Addis Ababa on Tuesday 9 May.

Hailemariam DesalegnH.E. Hailemariam Desalegn, prime minister of Ethiopia, officially opened the congress. Addressing delegates, he said: “Development is unthinkable in the absence of adequate and affordable energy”.

Emphasising the need to pull together, he said “I would like to reiterate the need for collective efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change”, and described hydropower as being “crucial to providing reliable and sustainable energy development for African economies”.

H.E. Quartey Thomas Kwesi, deputy chairperson of the African Union Commission, delivered a speech discussing hydropower’s role in addressing Africa’s energy challenges. He said: “Access to modern and sustainable energy services is crucial to achieving sustainable, transformative and inclusive development. 

“The development and expansion of renewable energy provides one of the most effective strategies to simultaneously promote development, sustainable energy access and energy security as well as climate change mitigation at the global, continental and regional levels.” 

Calling for increased collaboration, he said that “for Africa, there is a need to engage with specialised institutions such as the International Hydropower Association in order to benefit from their networks of experts.”

Liu Zhenya, chairman of the Global Energy Interconnection Development and Cooperation Organization (GEIDCO), presented the concept of ‘global energy interconnection’ (GEI) as “the inevitable way out for clean and low-carbon energy transition”.

He said: “It is imperative for us to accelerate the green and low-carbon transition. The key to realising that is to bring forward a new energy supply system prioritised by clean energy development and power supply with large-scale optimal allocation of the GEI platform.”

Closing he speech, he said: “Let’s work hand in hand for African energy interconnections with more communication and common consent, and make our due contribution to sustainable development.”

Ken Adams, president of the International Hydropower Association welcomed delegates to the congress. He said: “Hydropower cannot be done in isolation.

“My message today is that achieving Sustainable Development Goals will not be possible without breaking barriers and widening the scope of collaboration between all of our institutions. We must embrace the fact that one single technology will not resolve the challenges of our generation. 

“We need more hydropower on the grid, as it plays a role as a flexible, sustainable generation source. We also need it to play the often unrecognised role of energy storage.”

Rachel Kyte, CEO of Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) and special representative of the UN secretary general for Sustainable Energy for all, spoke of the urgency of the current energy challenge. She said: "Better Hydro  is an important way to meet the goal of sustainable energy agreed by all countries and the ambition of the Paris climate agreement. It offers affordable, cleaner, reliable energy as well as storage which can crowd in more solar and wind development.

"The challenge of securing sustainable energy for all by 2030 means we have to move forward with speed and scale. We hope that the World Hydropower Congress will spur rapid progress."

Abdalla Hamdok, acting executive secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, said that "hydropower is well known to be one of the most important power sources in the world, producing more than three quarters of the world's renewable energy output each year. A number of countries are almost exclusively using hydro as their baseload electricity. At the same time, hydropower has become the renewable energy of choice."

Reflecting on global concerns around hydropower's sustainability, he said: "I am glad to note that the agenda of this congress includes items of environmental and social impact in the context of hydropower development."

Noting the potential of Africa's vast natural resources, and the commitment of many African governments, partners and institutions to address the continent's energy infrastructure gap, he concluded by stating that Africa's "true value lies with the millions of Africans across the continent determined to drive change", and that "coupled with strong and coherence policy action", the continent has the power to deliver on a more sustainable energy future.

You can find out more about the congress at www.hydropower.org/congress.

 

 

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