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Regional interconnections

The challenge

To reach new markets and customers, clean electricity requires long-distance transmission, often across national boundaries.

Hydropower offers sustainable, affordable energy for local communities. For many projects to become economically viable, however, they must be interconnected to a central grid and markets in neighbouring countries.

Regional interconnection involves joining up separate power systems and building cross-border grid infrastructure. It can result in lower electricity costs, greater flexibility and improved system reliability for trading partners. 

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Additional benefits include access to clean energy systems and energy storage. But they can be stymied by a lack of institutional capacity when navigating the cost and complexity of a transmission infrastructure project.

Projects can in some cases be burdened by regulatory structures which are not harmonised or coordinated, and disagreements over how benefits are shared and risks are allocated can delay or even halt new developments.


Our strategy and action

IHA is promoting the benefits and lessons learned from regional energy interconnections.

The growth in regional energy networks globally has created new opportunities to widen access to clean electricity and water services. This is essential for many countries to meet their renewable energy targets, reduce poverty and boost national development.

We continue to explore both the opportunities and challenges stemming from the growth of cross border energy grids, and share knowledge with our partners and stakeholders for continued learning.

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The theme of the 2017 World Hydropower Congress was ‘Better hydro in an interconnected world’, with strong emphasis given to both long-distance and regional interconnections. It was organised with the support of GEIDCO, the African Union Commission and the UN Economic Commission for Africa at the Congress.

Throughout 2018, we will be developing a compendium of case studies to promote the mutual benefits and lessons learned from regional interconnections involving hydropower.


Recent activities

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In January 2017, we signed a partnership agreement with China’s Global Energy Interconnection Development and Cooperation Organization (GEIDCO).

In May 2017, the World Hydropower Congress in Ethiopia was organised under the theme, ‘Better hydro in an interconnected world’, with discussions focused on building regional interconnection.

In November 2017, we developed a case study on the Central American Electricity Interconnection System (SIEPAC), which was presented at a Global Energy Interconnection event hosted by UNDESA and GEIDCO.

In December 2017, a plan for collecting case studies for a forthcoming compendium weas prepared, with initial examples identified.


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