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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.



17 April 2020

In perhaps the largest electricity experiment the world has ever seen, India’s hydropower sector was heralded last week for restoring electricity to tens of millions of households following a huge plunge in demand.


The fall in demand of 31,089 megawatts (MW) – equivalent to the entire power demand of Pakistan – came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for Indians to switch off their lights for nine minutes at 9pm on 5 April, to express solidarity amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

While the Prime Minister’s aim was to unite citizens during a time of crisis, the move presented a huge challenge for power operators, who are charged with managing grid stability.

India is the world’s third largest consumer of electricity and, according to IHA’s 2019 Hydropower Status Report, has the sixth largest hydropower sector by installed capacity.

Hydropower’s role in grid stability

India’s Power System Operation Corporation (POSOCO) had anticipated a much smaller reduction of 12,000 to 14,000 MW in the nine-minute period than the 31, 089 MW which ultimately took place.  

Following Modi’s announcement, the state-owned company reportedly held a conference call with all state load despatch centres and major hydropower stations on 4 April, and began mock exercises on hydro ramping almost immediately.

As the country reached closer to the lights-off vigil, hydropower generation was maximised. When people began switching lights off between 8.45pm and 9.10pm, hydropower generation was then quickly reduced from 25,559 MW down to 8,016 MW to match the demand reduction.

Thanks to hydropower’s unique flexibility, the stations were then able to ramp up within seconds to meet the increased demand, as Indian households began switching their lights back on.

“In managing a staggering 31 GW ramp down on demand in matter of minutes, hydro resources helped the grid managers like a rock star,” Debashish Mishra, a partner at Deloitte India told The Mint newspaper. “Kudos to POSOCO and the LDCs (load despatch centres) for pulling off this spectacular event within the technical range of system frequency.”

In a preliminary report, POSOCO thanked hydropower operators, as well as thermal, gas and wind power operators, for their support and co-operation in meeting “this unprecedented challenge”. “The event was managed smoothly without any untoward incident while power system parameters were maintained within limits,” POSOCO said.

“This experiment provides a good example of how hydropower can provide flexibility and stability to the grid system under extreme circumstances,” said Nicholas Troja, a Senior Hydropower Analyst at the International Hydropower Association (IHA). “It again highlights the need for greater investment in flexible generation sources, particularly pumped hydropower storage.”

Professor Arun Kumar of the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee said: “The support provided by the flexibility of hydropower resources to meet the rapid drop and rise in the demand on 5 April 2020 triggered policy-makers to seriously think of installing hydropower projects, along with pumped storage.”

Read IHA’s working paper on pumped storage and our pumped storage tracking tool for more information.

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:

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