You are here


First call for proposals announced with April 2020 application deadline

19 February 2020 – A new sustainability fund launched today will aid hydropower project developers and operators in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas to benchmark and raise their social and environmental performance.

The Hydropower Sustainability ESG Assessment Fund will award a total of 1 million Swiss Francs (USD 1.02m) to 40 or more hydropower projects between 2020 and 2024. The initiative is managed by the International Hydropower Association’s sustainability division and funded by Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

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 tool enables project proponents and operators to demonstrate that they are meeting international good practice standards across 12 assessment areas including biodiversity, water quality, climate mitigation and resilience, infrastructure safety, labour conditions, indigenous peoples, resettlement, communications and consultation.

The grant will co-finance independent assessors, who are accredited by IHA and a governance council, to carry out an assessment using the HESG gap analysis tool. This involves a site visit and interviews with stakeholders, and produces a concluding report and gap management plan.

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.

Joao Costa, Senior Sustainability Specialist at IHA, said: “This initiative will encourage renewable energy proponents to draw upon international good practice when planning and implementing hydropower projects. Commissioning a HESG assessment helps to guide developers and operators to address any gaps in environmental and social performance. Going through this process will ultimately demonstrate a project’s sustainability and help unlock green finance.”

Daniel Menebhi, SECO Program Manager, said: “Recognising the important role sustainable hydropower has to play in addressing climate change and enabling economic development, Switzerland supports the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol and its derivatives, including the HESG gap analysis tool which is the subject of this call.

“Switzerland now funds an extensive capacity development programme in selected countries for Swiss economic development cooperation and we are pleased to co-finance HESG assessments for at least 40 promising hydropower projects over the next four years.”

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. Project proposals will be accepted up until 19 April 2020.

IHA is the management body for the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Council, which develops and governs the Hydropower Sustainability Tools, including a set of good practice guidelines, an assessment protocol and a gap analysis tool. The council includes representatives of social, community and environmental organisations, governments, commercial and development banks and the hydropower sector. IHA is responsible for overseeing tools training and accreditation.

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

Find out more:





6 February 2020, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire - Senior African government representatives and leaders from the energy sector, financial institutions and civil society gathered in Abidjan today to chart a course for the sustainable development of the continent’s hydropower resources.

Read the meeting's outcomes in English and French.


Organised by the International Hydropower Association (IHA) and the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Africa High-level Roundtable on Sustainable Hydropower Development looked at strategies for ensuring projects are developed in accordance with international good practice, while overcoming challenges to development and access to finance.

With close to 600 million Africans lacking access to electricity, speakers including Hon Fortune Chasi, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Energy, and Sabati Cissé, Côte d’Ivoire’s Director-General for Petroleum, Energy and Renewable Energies, emphasised the social-economic and power system benefits of investing in hydroelectricity.

Africa’s existing hydropower plants deliver 36 gigawatts (GW) of installed generation capacity, but this represents only about 11 per cent of the region’s technical potential, according to IHA (Hydropower Status Report 2019).

“As a renewable energy source offering design options from run-of-river plants to pumped storage plants, hydropower in its different forms adds significant value to power systems and the reliability of energy supply,” said Wale Shonibare, the African Development Bank’s Acting Vice President for Power Energy, Climate Change and Green Growth.

Mr Shonibare said the AfDB is committed to supporting new hydropower projects through its New Deal on Energy for Africa and has already invested close to USD 1 billion for 1.4 GW of expected installed capacity over the past ten years.

“As the Bank’s emphasis on renewable energy sources is growing, so does its interest in hydropower. In order to achieve universal access to energy, it is not enough to bring online the amount of generation capacity required to cover energy demand, it is also essential to do this in a sustainable way that assures power system reliability,” he said.



(Pictured: Sabati Cisse, Director General of Energy, Ivory Coast and Hon. Fortune Chasi, Minister of Energy, Zimbabwe)

In his intervention, Minister Chasi noted that Zimbabwe, where more than half of the population does not have electricity access, needs international investment and technical assistance to develop renewable energy sources including hydropower. “We consider hydropower to be essential and critical for our generation of power,” he said.

Mr Cissé noted that Africa’s hydropower plants, through increasing electricity access, contribute significantly to poverty reduction and economic growth. “Africa has enormous hydropower potential, which we will need if we want to achieve national policy priorities and the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Eddie Rich, Chief Executive of IHA, said it was important to create an enabling policy and regulatory environment to incentivise new projects, while ensuring that both greenfield and rehabilitation projects are built and operated in accordance with internationally recognised guidelines and assessment tools.

“The Hydropower Sustainability Tools, governed by a multi-stakeholder coalition of social and environmental NGOs, governments, banks and industry, must be embedded in decision-making on project selection, planning, financing, development and operation. These tools define good and best practice and help to assess whether a hydropower project is truly sustainable across objective social, environmental and governance performance measures,” he said.

The Africa High-level Roundtable on Sustainable Hydropower Development was organised with support from AFD, the French development agency.

View the list of speakers

Read the outcomes of the Roundtable

About the African Development Bank

The African Development Bank Group is Africa’s premier development finance institution. It comprises three distinct entities: the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Development Fund (ADF) and the Nigeria Trust Fund (NTF). On the ground in 41 African countries with an external office in Japan, the Bank contributes to the economic development and the social progress of its 54 regional member states.

About IHA

The International Hydropower Association (IHA) is a non-profit organisation working with a network of members and partners to advance sustainable hydropower. Its mission is to build and share knowledge on hydropower’s role in renewable energy systems, responsible freshwater management and climate change solutions. IHA is also the management body for the Hydropower Sustainability Tools and provides training and accreditation for independent project assessors.

11 December 2019

Costa Rica has been announced as the destination of the next World Hydropower Congress.

The World Hydropower Congress is the leading global event in sustainable hydropower development bringing together decision-makers, experts and innovators to set priorities for the sector.

The congress will be held in San José, Costa Rica, under the theme ‘Renewables working together in an interconnected world’ under the patronage of the President of Costa Rica.

The announcement was made today by Costa Rican Minister of Environment and Energy, Hon. Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, at a launch event at the UN climate conference (COP25) in Madrid, Spain.

Organised by the International Hydropower Association (IHA) and supported by Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE), the government run electricity services provider, the congress is a high-level, biennial meeting of governments, international organisations, financial institutions, research, non-governmental organisations, and industry.

Hon. Carlos Manuel Rodriguez said his government was delighted to bring the World Hydropower Congress to Costa Rica, a country which is powered by almost 100% renewable energy including around 80 per cent from hydroelectric generation.

“Costa Rica is a global leader in renewable electricity. Using hydro, wind, solar, geo and bio energy resources, Costa Rica has built a system that provides renewable electricity while ensuring social and human rights. These technologies will play a key role in the next phase of climate commitments under the UN Climate Convention. We are happy to share our experience with the region and the world, as we move away from fossil fuels and toward a net zero world by 2050,” the Minister said.

First held in Turkey in 2007, the World Hydropower Congress draws over 700 participants from more than 70 countries to agree priorities in delivering sustainable energy and water systems in the context of climate change. It represents a unique opportunity to share knowledge and insights on hydropower at the highest level.

Eddie Rich, Chief Executive of IHA, said: “With its strong commitment to hydropower and sustainable development, it’s hard to think of a better host for the 2021 World Hydropower Congress than Costa Rica. It seems fitting that they host the event that will put the focus on hydropower’s role in delivering a 100% renewable energy future in concert with other renewables.”

The last World Hydropower Congress was held in Paris, France, in May 2019, under the high patronage of President Emmanuel Macron. Delegates from 77 countries participated and the programme was organised in collaboration with some 50 partner organisations. The Report on the World Hydropower Congress is now available to download online.

Brigitte Collet, Ambassador for Climate for the Government of France, praised the commitment of Costa Rica to decarbonisation, as she formally handed over the mandate to host the World Hydropower Congress. “Costa Rica’s energy mix is truly remarkable. It is a real pleasure to hand over to your country. We believe the presidency of the World Hydropower Congress is in the best possible hands.”

Antoine Badinier from French hydropower operator EDF said his company was proud to have supported this year’s event in Paris. “The World Hydropower Congress that took place in May 2019 was a successful event for the global hydropower sector and a very special moment for EDF. On behalf of the company, I am glad to take part in this handing over ceremony to Costa Rica, and I look forward to participating in the 2021 World Hydropower Congress.”

Update July 2020: The World Hydropower Congress was originally scheduled for May 2021 but was rescheduled to September 2021 due to the impact of Covid-19


(Brigette Collet Ambassador for Climate Government of France and Carlos Manuel Rodriguez Minister of Environment and Energy Costa Rica)

The World Hydropower Congress programme includes three main components: a core set of plenary sessions, deep-dive (parallel) sessions, networking and bilateral meetings. Key themes are:

  • energy (innovation, storage and interconnections)
  • water (multipurpose use and transboundary initiatives)
  • climate (mitigation, resilience and adaptation)
  • sustainability (tools, sector performance and standards)
  • finance and investment (project funding and risk management)

Further information about the World Hydropower Congress and how to get involved is available at

About IHA

With members and partners active in more than 100 countries, the International Hydropower Association (IHA) is a non-profit network of people and organisations working to advance sustainable hydropower.

Among its objectives, IHA seeks to create an open and innovative platform to share knowledge on hydropower’s role relating to energy, water and climate. By working with stakeholders around the world, IHA also advances strategies to strengthen the sector’s performance. For example, through the co-development of the Hydropower Sustainability Tools, which help to guide the sector and inform decision making.


World Hydropower Congress Secretariat
International Hydropower Association

Media contact:

Will Henley
Head of Communications

10 December 2019

A major new energy innovation project to demonstrate how smart hydropower technologies can deliver a low-carbon, reliable and resilient power system was launched today.

The €18 million initiative was announced by the European Commission and a consortium of 19 partners at the United Nations climate change conference (COP25) in Madrid, Spain. It will show how innovative and flexible hydropower systems can help countries across the world meet their renewable energy targets.

The XFLEX HYDRO (Hydropower Extending Power System Flexibility) project is a four-year initiative by leading utilities, equipment manufacturers, universities, research centres and consultancies. It will demonstrate how modern hydropower plants can provide the vital power grid services required by variable renewables such as wind and solar power.

The launch comes after a major UN Emissions Gap Report looking at ways to reduce global carbon emissions said that greater power system flexibility was “key” to integrating larger shares of variable renewable energy into the power supply.

The XFLEX HYDRO technologies to be tested are enhanced variable- and fixed-speed turbine systems, smart controls and a battery-turbine hybrid, each of which will be demonstrated at hydropower plant sites across Europe.

The project will conclude in 2023 by delivering a roadmap to increase adoption of the technologies across the hydropower fleet, with policy and market recommendations for governments, regulators and industry.

The initiative has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. It aims to help the EU achieve a target of achieving 32% of energy from renewable sources by 2030.

European Commission:

Mr Patrick Child, Deputy Director-General for the European Commission’s Directorate-General Research and Innovation, commented: “Combining the excellence and expertise of 19 partners from across Europe, the XFLEX HYDRO project will test innovative solutions based on renewable energy sources that will provide greater flexibility and sustainability to the energy system. The project aims to increase hydropower’s potential in terms of plant efficiency, thereby boosting electrical power systems and enabling plant and system operators to operate more successfully in electricity markets. This can make an impactful contribution to European renewable energy objectives and policies.”


Professor François Avellan of EPFL, the research institute and university leading the project, stated: “Across Europe countries are embracing large-scale electricity generation from renewables such as solar and wind power and shifting away from conventional fossil fuels for electricity generation. The growth in variable renewables is changing how power grids operate, with potential impacts on the stability and security on the whole power grid. This places unprecedented challenges on the hydropower sector to provide flexible and reliable services to the grid.

“The technologies demonstrated by the XFLEX HYDRO project will help hydropower to consolidate its critical role to support the integration of variable renewables into the power grid. This will ensure hydropower operators can maximise their performance and access future energy markets,” he added.

International Hydropower Association:

Eddie Rich, Chief Executive of the International Hydropower Association (IHA), which is responsible for XFLEX HYDRO project communications, said: “We need to decarbonise the power sector, and fast, if we are to limit the devastating impacts of climate change. Last month’s UN Emissions Gap Report is a stark reminder that we need hydropower to boost the contribution of variable renewables like wind and solar. The XFLEX HYDRO initiative represents a clear commitment by the European Commission, leading organisations from the hydropower sector and academia to invest in new and innovative hydropower technologies.”

Find out more at



Launch event speakers (left to right): Richard Taylor (Executive Adviser, IHA), Patrick Child (Deputy Director-General, EU Commission), Sara Goulartt (EDP), Antoine Badinier (EDF), with Minoru Takada (UN DESA) who hosted the launch at the UN DESA SDG pavilion at COP25.

Project partners:


EPFL - Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), based in Lausanne, Switzerland, is one of Europe’s most vibrant and cosmopolitan science and technology institutions. EPFL is the project leader responsible for scientific supervision and developing a new smart power plant supervisor system technology through the XFLEX HYDRO project.

Alpiq - Alpiq is a leading Swiss energy services provider and electricity producer in Europe. It produces each year in Switzerland 4,200 GWh of electricity from hydropower. In the project, Alpiq leads the demonstrator at Z’Mutt, in Switzerland, which involves the renewal of Unit 5 of the pump station of Z'Mutt to test new operation modes in variable speed using a full-size frequency converter.

Andritz AT - ANDRITZ HYDRO GmbH is a global supplier of electromechanical systems and services for hydropower plants. The company is a leader in the world market for hydraulic power generation. The HYDRO division is the largest business area of ANDRITZ AG headquartered in Graz, Austria. ANDRITZ AT contributes to the demonstration in the Vogelgrün power plant focusing on optimised control of the hydraulic system in combination with a battery.

Andritz CH – ANDRITZ HYDRO AG is the Swiss subsidiary of ANDRITZ HYDRO GmbH in Switzerland. It contributes to the demonstration at the Vogelgrün power plant, focusing on generating a digital twin of the plant, developing a generic method for data based, real-time assessment of wear and tear and to optimise a specific predictive maintenance module for hydraulic system equipment manufacturers in combination with a battery.

ARMINES – ARMINES is a private non-profit research and technological organisation performing research contractual activities and academic research training. The project activities of ARMINES are primarily focused on implementing advanced control strategies and forecasting tools, and in the coordinated control of battery energy storage systems and hydropower plants.

CEA - CEA (Commissariat à l'énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives) is a French public body and the country’s largest technology research and development provider, whose role is to transfer this know-how to the industry. CEA is responsible for the battery storage system that is hybridised with the hydropower turbine in the Vogelgrün power plant.

EDF - EDF Group is the world’s leading electricity company, particularly well established in Europe. The EDF Hydro Division largely contributes to the 98% CO² free electricity in France, with a yearly average generation of 43.5TWh with its 600+ dams and 400 power plants. EDF is responsible for two demonstrations in the project: at Grand Maison and Vogelgrün power plants.

EDP CNET - EDP Centre for New Energy Technologies (EDP CNET) is a subsidiary of the EDP Group with the mission to create value through collaborative R&D in the energy sector. EDP CNET is responsible for two demonstrations within XFLEX (Alqueva and Alto Lindoso power plant in Portugal), and leads the definition of business use cases for the provision of flexibility services in the power system.

EDP P - EDP Gestão da Produção da Energia, S.A has some 1,000 workers, with an installed capacity of 10 GW, 6.7 GW of which is hydropower (approximately 2.5 GW of which with pumping capacity). As a key utility partner and major hydro operator, EDP P provides the perspective of a large-scale storage investor/owner and is responsible for the Frades 2 demonstrator in Portugal.

GE Renewable Energy - GE Renewable Energy is a $15 billion business which combines one of the broadest portfolios in the renewable energy industry to provide end-to-end solutions for our customers demanding reliable and affordable green power. Combining onshore and offshore wind, blades, hydro, storage, utility-scale solar, and grid solutions as well as hybrid renewables and digital services offerings, the company has installed more than 400+ gigawatts of clean renewable energy. The hydro activity leads the development of solutions to extend flexibility services on three demonstrators: Grand Maison, Alqueva and Alto Lindoso power plants.

HES SO - HES SO is the largest university of applied sciences in Switzerland and the second largest higher education institution of the country, with more than 21,000 students and 25 schools located in 7 cantons. The hydroelectric research group of HES SO is in charge of the modelling, numerical analysis and prototype measurements in several demonstrators.

IHA - The International Hydropower Association (IHA) is a non-profit membership organisation committed to advancing sustainable hydropower by building and sharing knowledge on its role in renewable energy systems, responsible freshwater management and climate change solutions. IHA is responsible for XFLEX HYDRO project communications.

INESC TEC - INESC TEC is a private non-profit institution having as associates the University of Porto, INESC and the Polytechnic Institute of Porto. INESCTEC leads the development and population of the hydro flexibility matrix, as well as the development of system integration studies and models for the technologies and solutions to attain the enhanced flexibility range.

PVE - Power Vision Engineering is a spin-off company of the Ecole polytechnique féderale de Lausanne, EPFL, founded in 2007, providing software solutions and expertise in the field of hydropower plant transient and dynamic behaviour. PVE contributes to the modelling and simulation of hydraulic and hydroelectric systems and is a supplier of the HydroClone innovative Real-Time Simulation Monitoring (RTSM) system.

SuperGrid Institute - SuperGrid Institute is an independent research and innovation centre that works to facilitate the wide-scale integration of renewable resources into the electrical grid. The Institute is responsible for illustrating the impact of the flexible technologies and is developing a tool (Flexbot) to demonstrate their economic benefits. Its real-time hydraulic test platform will also be used to demonstrate the effectiveness of new flexible solutions.

UPC - Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya is a public institution dedicated to higher education and research, specialised in the fields of architecture, engineering and technology. UPC is responsible for the field tests and the installation of the monitoring system in the demonstrators.

USTUTT – The University of Stuttgart is composed of 10 faculties covering technical fields, natural sciences as well as social sciences with a total of 22,600 students and 3,150 researchers. USTUTT is responsible for the unsteady numerical flow field simulations to determine unsteady dynamic loads on pump-turbine components.

Voith Hydro - The Voith Group is a global technology company. With its broad portfolio of systems, products, services and digital applications, the Voith Group sets standards in the markets of energy, oil and gas, paper, raw materials and transport and automotive. The Group Division Hydro experts focus on the development and implementation of additional solutions to make the Frades 2 demonstrator even more efficient and to increase its performance range as well as to optimise its maintenance in order to strengthen its supportive role for the flexibility of the power system.

ZABALA - ZABALA is a Spanish SME with wide experience in supporting organisations in the management of their research, technology development and innovation activities. ZABALA participates in the definition of the business development plan for all knowledge created in the project and establishing an IPR strategy for the protection of intellectual property.


Media contact:

Will Henley
International Hydropower Association


As part of a series of interviews profiling leading Fellows of the International Hydropower Association (IHA), we meet Herbie Johnson, General Manager at Southern Company and former President of the National Hydropower Association (NHA).


Herbie Johnson is General Manager at Southern Company, where he oversees 32 hydroelectric projects with a capacity of more than 2,600 MW. In September 2019 he was elected to serve on IHA’s Board, after serving two years as President of the National Hydropower Association (NHA) in the U.S. from 2017 to 2019. He continues through, his various roles, to help shape the agenda for the industry.

Herbie says one of the highlights of his career was when, in his capacity as NHA President, he had a chance to testify before the U.S. Congress about the efficiency of the licensing process. It gave him the opportunity to share ideas on how to keep the process efficient for the next hundred years.

 “We work on legislation to keep the process of licencing and relicencing our hydroelectric plants, not only for Alabama Power Company [a subsidiary of Southern Company], but across the U.S., as efficient as possible, so it doesn’t impact ratepayers and our stakeholders in a negative manner,” says Herbie. The opportunity to work in Washington, D.C. and manage that process, as well as manage that organisation as the President, has been a dream come true for me.”

Having worked at Southern Company for more than 25 years, Herbie says it’s the “hundred-year plan” that he really enjoys about his job. “When I interact with our communities and our stakeholders, when I talk to our current employees or the young employee we’re going to hire, I want them to know our hydro plants are ‘forever assets’ and that we’ve got a plan for the next 100 years,” he says.

“Several of our dams are already over 100 years old. We want people to know that we’re already thinking about how we’re going to preserve these assets with sound engineering and innovation.”


Staff sergeant to hydrologist

Despite his success, Herbie admits he did not always envision a career in the hydropower industry. After graduating from high school, Herbie went into the military and served in the U.S. Air Force and the Alabama Air National Guard for six years. After achieving the rank of staff sergeant, Herbie sought a university education and ultimately decided on a degree in civil engineering at Auburn University.

“My father and grandfather built houses, so I always had an interest in construction,” Herbie says. “That ultimately led me to civil engineering.”

On the completion of his degree, Herbie started as a hydrologist in Alabama Power Company. “I went into the plants and learned how they operate and what it takes from a team of people to keep the plant running,” he says. “This included everything from dam safety to keeping the lights on, how to keep the water regulated, and how to make sure we meet state laws and regulations.”

Soon enough, Herbie had the chance to start managing a dam as a superintendent at Thurlow Dam in Tallassee. “From there, it just progressed. I managed other plants within our system and did some large construction projects, proving the ability to transfer my skills of civil and project management to large-scale projects,” he says. “That gave me the opportunity to come back into our hydro organisation as the General Manager and support the great team of people that keeps our hydro fleet running.”


Passing down “tribal” stories

He credits his mentors, Mike Akridge and Gene Allison, both ex-hydro general managers at Southern Company, as great influences throughout his career. Both helped him with knowledge transfer, lessons learned, and passed down “tribal” stories that were critical parts of the hydro industry and Southern Company. “The knowledge I gained from them are stepping stones for the leaders that will follow me,” Herbie says.

Knowledge-sharing is vital for Herbie and he feels honoured at the opportunity to serve on the IHA Board.

“The importance of IHA will continue to rise as the energy markets begin to value the robustness and flexibility of hydro resources,” Herbie says, adding that being a part of the Association offers many benefits.

“IHA members have access to tools, forums and subject matter experts that can open avenues for success as we integrate current and future hydro resources into the energy industry,” he says.

“The globalisation of the industry presents a unique set of challenges we didn’t face 20 years ago, and we need to work together to continue to have quality products that can be delivered in a timely manner to keep us competitive as a long-term asset in our energy markets of today and the future.”

Find out how to become a Fellow of the International Hydropower Association (IHA) here.