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19 December 2018

The UN climate conference in Katowice, Poland, concluded this weekend with agreement by 196 countries on plans for a common rulebook for bringing the Paris Agreement into force by 2020.

The rulebook outlines how governments should report their greenhouse gas emissions and contributions to climate finance, as well as rules about voluntary market mechanisms such as carbon trading.

Governments also agreed to revise and enhance their climate action commitments, as described in so-called Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), before 2020.

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IHA Senior Analyst Mathis Rogner addresses a COP24 side event hosted in partnership with the REN Alliance.

Representatives of IHA and its member organisations led discussions about hydropower’s contribution to climate change solutions, the highlight of which was the launch by Itaipu Binacional and the United Nations of a new Global Network of Sustainable Water and Energy Solutions.

“For the sake of our future generations, the time to act is now,” said IHA Chief Executive Richard Taylor, a member of the Global Network’s steering committee, as he commended the Brazilian-Paraguayan hydropower operator and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs for the new initiative.

José Alberto Alderete Rodríguez, Itaipu’s Paraguayan Director-General, called on more organisations to be engaged to “combat climate change”. “It is time to act, to move from commitment to practice, and this is the vision we have,” he said.

"Itaipu works for the border region of Brazil and Paraguay, and for the world, especially to improve capacities in water and energy management, which is fundamental to promote sustainable development and the implementation of Agenda 2030,” added Marcos Stamm, the organisation’s Brazilian Director General.

As a member of the International Renewable Energy Alliance (REN Alliance), IHA also participated in a joint side event on 11 December looking at the changes required to the global power sector if governments are to deliver the Paris Agreement.

"The energy transition means a fundamental transformation of the way we, as a global society, use, supply, buy and sell electricity," said IHA Senior Analyst Mathis, as he outlined hydropower's contribution in enabling countries such as Portugal and Costa Rica to achieve 100 per cent renewable electricity in 2018.

Pumped storage, floating photovoltaics and innovative co-location projects are all supporting growth in variable renewables, Mr Rogner noted, with hydropower continuing to innovate with digitalisation supporting new “smart” grids. “This will help hydropower evolve and do a better job of balancing variable renewables,” he added.

During the conference, IHA and the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Council, a coalition of industry, civil society, governments and financial institutions, also launched new Hydropower Sustainability Guidelines on Good International Industry Practice. The 26 guidelines define expected sustainability performance around a range of environmental, social, technical and governance topics relevant to hydropower.

The COP24 conference was the last major event for the energy and hydropower sector in 2018, ahead of the World Hydropower Congress in May 2019, which is now open for registration.

18 December 2018

An additional 78,000 megawatts (MW) in clean energy storage capacity is expected to come online by 2030 from hydropower reservoirs fitted with pumped storage technology, according to the International Hydropower Association (IHA).

In a working paper published today, The World’s Water Battery: Pumped Hydropower Storage and the Clean Energy Transition, IHA also estimates that pumped hydropower storage projects globally now store up to 9,000 gigawatt hours (GWh).

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Guangzhou pumped storage plant, China. Credit: Voith.

“Pumped hydropower storage (PHS) accounts for over 94 per cent of global energy storage capacity, ahead of lithium-ion and other forms of storage,” said IHA Senior Analyst Nicholas Troja, one of the paper’s authors. “It will play a critical role in the clean energy transition by supporting variable renewable energy, reducing greenhouse emissions and providing stability to power grids.”

With more than 100 projects currently in the pipeline, existing pumped hydropower storage capacity is expected to increase by almost 50 per cent by 2030 – from 161,000 MW today to 239,000 MW according to the working paper which draws on data from IHA’s Hydropower Pumped Storage Tracking Tool.

The working paper describes the benefits of pumped storage as power systems seek to incorporate more wind and solar projects into their portfolios. Innovations such as variable speed pump-turbines and ternary systems are allowing for faster and wider operating ranges, providing additional flexibility at all timescales, and enabling higher penetrations of variable renewable energy at lower system costs.

Download The World’s Water Battery: Pumped Hydropower Storage and the Clean Energy Transition.

The authors also investigate current business models and emerging opportunities for financing PHS projects, particularly in liberalised energy markets, while warning of barriers to future development. Despite the projected growth in PHS capacity, they note that policy and market frameworks are not properly incentivising and rewarding the services it provides.

“Pumped storage technology and operations support the energy transition, however policies and market frameworks have struggled to catch up and are failing to adequately reward the flexibility provided by hydropower,” added Mr Troja.

The publication is released alongside a major update to IHA’s Hydropower Pumped Storage Tracking Tool, which shows the status of PHS projects around the world, their installed generating and pumping capacity, and their actual or planned date of commissioning.

Visit the Hydropower Pumped Storage Tracking Tool: hydropower.org/pumpedstoragetool

IHA Senior Analyst Mathis Rogner said: “The working paper draws on data newly available through the Hydropower Pumped Storage Tracking Tool, the most comprehensive online resource of its kind on the world's water batteries. This builds on IHA’s knowledge building programme involving sector monitoring and analysis to inform discussion and debate about new trends and developments in the hydropower sector.”

The December 2018 update to the tracking tool includes additional information on PHS projects, both operational and in various stages of development. The tool’s interactive map includes configuration details for each project, including estimations of total energy stored and maximum head.

The working paper concludes by setting out the policy areas and knowledge gaps that would benefit from further research and discussion to advance the role of pumped hydropower storage in clean energy systems.

At the World Hydropower Congress, in Paris between 14-16 May 2019, decision-makers, policy-makers, experts and innovators from across the sector will explore the changing landscape for pumped storage. A focus session on 15 May will look at the policy and market mechanisms that are required to ensure stable power grids and cost-effective pumped hydro operations.

Register for the World Hydropower Congress today and take advantage of early bird pricing at hydropower.org/congress

13 December 2018

New sustainability guidelines released today present a definition of the processes and outcomes relating to good international practice in the hydropower sector.

The Hydropower Sustainability Guidelines on Good International Industry Practice are a reference document to meet the expectations of lenders, regulators and consumers.

Derived through consultation with a broad coalition of industry, civil society, governments and financial institutions, the set of 26 guidelines define expected sustainability performance around a range of environmental, social, technical and governance topics relevant to hydropower activities.

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The guidelines are governed by the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Council, whose 100 members include representatives of organisations such as the World Bank Group, the Inter-American Investment Corporation, Women for Water Partnership, WWF, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the Norwegian Agency for Development, the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs and the International Hydropower Association (IHA).

Richard Taylor, Chief Executive of IHA, said: “The publication of the guidelines is a major landmark for the hydropower sector. They are a much-needed reference document, as they set out what constitutes good practice in processes and outcomes for sustainable hydropower.”

Roger Gill, Chair of the Council’s governance committee, said the guidelines should “demystify what is required to advance sustainable hydropower”. “Use of the guidelines on good international industry practice will enable hydropower developers and operators across the world to step up to ensure their projects can meet the needs and expectations of the communities they serve,” he stated.  

Aligned with standards developed by the World Bank, International Finance Corporation, and the Equator Principles group of banks, the guidelines are hydropower-specific and designed to support assessments of project performance using the Council’s internationally recognised Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol and ESG Gap Analysis Tool.

Developed for a range of stages in the planning, development and operation of a hydropower project, compliance with each guideline can be specified in commercial contracts between financiers and developers, and developers and contractors.

Lesha Witmer, Advocacy Lead for the NGO Women for Water Partnership, a member of the Council’s governance committee, said the new sustainability guidelines are “an important tool” for developers as well as governments, environmental organisations and local communities. “It is extremely important to have good guidance and examples on how to sustainably use water for energy - and energy for water - adhering to implementation of Sustainable Development Goals 6 and 7. The guidelines on good practice are a contribution to do just that.”

Eduard Wojczynski, a specialist consultant on hydropower sustainability, said: “The sustainability guidelines are a well-articulated and concise set of principles which will be useful in both developing and developed countries. They are important in that they will assist in ensuring hydropower is developed and operated in a sustainable manner and in enhancing societal acceptance of hydropower.”

Download the Hydropower Sustainability Guidelines at: 
hydropower.org/sustainabilityguidelines or hydrosustainability.org/guidelines

Media enquiries:

Will Henley, IHA Head of Communications 
will.henley@hydropower.org

A Global Network of Sustainable Water and Energy Solutions, led by Itaipu Binacional and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, was launched during the UN Conference on Climate Change (COP 24) in Poland.

The network is the result of an agreement signed between the two organisations in March 2018. It will create a platform for sharing knowledge and good practices on integrated approaches for delivering Sustainable Development Goals 6 (clean water and sanitation) and 7 (affordable and clean energy).

The initiative is supported by the International Hydropower Association (IHA), with Chief Executive Richard Taylor joining as a member of the partnership’s steering committee.

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IHA's Chief Excutive Richard Taylor (centre) with representatives of Itaipu Binacional at COP24.

At the launch event in the Polish city of Katowice on 4 December 2018, UN DESA Under-Secretary-General Liu Zhenmin stated that water and energy are interconnected and crucial issues for the achievement of the SDGs.

In South America, for example, the availability of water has a direct relationship with energy generation, since hydropower accounts for more than 80 per cent of electricity supply. At the same time, the process of treatment and supply of drinking water is highly dependent on electricity.

Mr Liu drew attention to the fact that 1 billion people in the world do not have access to electricity, and 2.1 billion people lack access to water at home.

"The next decade is a window of opportunity for the international community to take action on these issues and to make significant progress. In this scenario, an integrated approach to SDGs 6 and 7 is a powerful tool," said Mr Liu. "And Itaipu is an example of this, as I personally witnessed last May when I visited the plant,” he added.

Itaipu, a member of IHA, was represented at the launch by financial directors, Mário Cecato (Brazil) and Monica Perez dos Santos (Paraguay), who emphasised the company's commitment to sharing its experiences in promoting development, biodiversity conservation, poverty reduction, and income generation

"This partnership with UN DESA is closely linked to our company. Water and energy are key issues for Itaipu's activities", said Mr Cecato. "It is from the water and energy care that Itaipu demonstrates its commitment to promoting economic, social and environmental development, both in Brazil and in Paraguay,” Ms Perez added.

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Mr Liu Zhenmin, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, at the launch event on 4 December 2018

Mr Taylor said the International Hydropower Association was committed to supporting the initiative. "There are very few examples, such as Itaipu, where the commitment to sustainable development is central to all its activities”, Mr Taylor said. “So we have to learn from these examples. For the sake of our future generations, the time to act is now."

Itaipu is also a strategic partner for the World Hydropower Congress, which is organised by IHA and hosted by UNESCO in Paris. Registration for the biennial event, held between 14 and 16 May 2019, is now open.

Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of UNFCCC, was among those to welcome the launch of the global partnership. “It’s a unique and positive way forward - one that not only promotes water and energy sustainability, but advances the SDGs as well,” she said.

“Your goal is clear: to grow this global network over time to become one of the largest multi-stakeholder-based knowledge networks on water and energy. You also recognise the influential and defining role that climate change plays in this as well. We appreciate your work, your partnership and the results you’ve achieved so far. Never have we needed this work like now.”

Ms Espinosa added: “Governments alone cannot solve climate change. We need all people on board if we’re to truly make a difference.”

How it works

The network's proposal is to attract other organisations, governments and companies working with an integrated approach between water and energy. To join the platform, UN DESA is asking interested parties to produce case studies about their practices. After a review by the UN body, the studies will be made available online.

For more information please contact: communications@hydropower.org and jpcu@itaipu.gov.py or complete the contact form on the UN DESA website.

10 December 2018

Young engineers and scientists researching hydropower, water and energy systems can now apply for the International Hydropower Association’s prestigious Young Researcher of the Year award.

The 2019 award, which recognises and rewards emerging talent in academia and the hydropower sector, will be presented at the World Hydropower Congress in Paris, 14-16 May 2019

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The recipients of the IHA Young Researcher Award at the 2017 World Hydropower Congress

Open to academic researchers aged under 30, entrants are invited to submit a short article summarising their work (no more than 1,500 words). The subject must be relevant to at least one of the topics under discussion at the upcoming World Hydropower Congress.

The winner will receive a year’s individual membership with IHA and free registration to the 2019 Congress, where they will be invited to present their research. Those who make the shortlist will have their articles published on the IHA website.

IHA’s Chief Executive Richard Taylor said: “The IHA Young Researcher Award provides an opportunity for young innovators to share their research with key representatives from the hydropower sector, government, financial and academic institutions and civil society. It is a rare chance to bring specialist research findings to the attention of policy-makers from around the world.”

The award was first presented at the 2015 World Hydropower Congress in Beijing, China, where it was won by Sami Khan of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for his work on hydrophobic rare-earth oxide coatings and their potential application in hydropower systems.

It was awarded again at the 2017 World Hydropower Congress in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The recipients were Alexandros Korkovelos of KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sara Mercier-Blais of the University of Quebec in Montreal and Rafael Schmitt of UC Berkeley.

Since winning the award, Dr Schmitt has become Lead Hydrologist and a postdoctoral researcher at The Natural Capital Project at Stanford University. He referred to the experience as a “pivotal moment” for his research.

“The World Hydropower Congress exposed me to real-world challenges and led me to direct my research towards decision-relevant research questions. The network I established during the Congress has led to ongoing collaborations and research opportunities with key actors in the hydropower sector,” said Dr Schmitt.

This sentiment was echoed by Ms Mercier-Blais, for whom the Congress was a “first step” into the hydropower sector. “By attending different panel sessions, I learned about many subjects, which has helped me to better understand the context I am now working with.”

The 2019 World Hydropower Congress will focus on hydropower’s role in delivering the Paris Climate Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals. It is expected to bring together representatives from more than 100 countries.

To qualify, entrants must have been born after 31 December 1988 and must be affiliated with an academic institution. To find out more about the IHA Young Researcher Award, including the full entry criteria, visit www.hydropower.org/iha-young-researcher-award.

Register for the 2019 World Hydropower Congress

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