In October 2013 Manitoba Hydro’s senior vice president for power supply, Ken Adams, was elected IHA’s new president for 2013–15. Ken talks about his past involvement with the association, the big challenges for hydropower and what the future holds.
Could you tell us a little bit more about yourself and your past engagement with IHA?
I’ve been involved in the sector for over 45 years now. I’ve been on the IHA Board for eight years, and a vicepresident for six years. My first involvement was over a decade ago, when I attended a workshop in Spain.
We felt that we needed a stronger voice internationally to help us at home in dealing with some criticisms that were coming from afar – positions that lacked substantiation, and weren’t being answered.
Over a ten-year period, I’ve seen IHA grow from a relatively small, almost ad-hoc organisation into the effective, efficient and sophisticated organisation it is today.
What are the most striking changes that you have witnessed in the hydropower sector over the last few years?
In 2014, the hydropower community will celebrate a landmark achievement as we surpass 1,000 GW of global installed capacity. As governments, the finance sector and project leaders around the world place a growing emphasis on sustainable development, this progress signals the increasingly central role that hydropower plays in the advancement of renewable energy systems.
The big role for us is to continue to promote the idea that if it is done in the right way, the financial risk will be substantially reduced."
The huge change is that hydropower throughout the world is now viewed favourably, whereas certainly ten years ago it wasn’t. In the 1990s, world hydropower capacity increased by around 100 GW, but in the following decade the increase was double this figure.
The banking industry is looking at hydropower more favourably, and the United Nations and other international organisations seem to be a lot more accepting. There are many reasons for this progress, but one is that IHA has been able to effectively demonstrate the concept that, if done well, hydropower is sustainable in all the senses of the word.
What do you think are the biggest challenges for hydropower today?
One of the biggest challenges is always going to be financing. Hydropower requires a huge capital investment over a long period of time, and it takes quite a while before you start to get your return.
The big role for us is to continue to promote the idea that if it is done in the right way, the financial risk will be substantially reduced. We have led the way in this respect through the worldwide implementation of the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol.
How can members become engaged in the work of the association?
I’d like to see more members participating in sub-groups, working groups, committees, and not just the Board, which is very active.
I think it’s critically important that the knowledge that’s embedded in members throughout the world, often at several levels down in the organisation, can be brought out.
This interview is taken from Advancing Sustainable Hydropower – our 2014 activity report that highlights achievements in 2013 and outlines our plans for the future. You can download a full copy of the report here.