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August 2020

31 August 2020

Hydropower stations constructed decades ago across Asia are in need of significant investment and upgrades to enhance their critical contribution to the region’s clean energy goals, according to new research.

A study conducted by the International Hydropower Association (IHA) for the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) identified 66 hydropower stations across 19 countries that could be ripe for modernisation, at an estimated investment value of up to US$13.7bn.


The study was carried out to provide a better understanding of the scale of modernisation needs available across the region. Potential projects range from rehabilitating existing infrastructure to improve efficiency, climate resilience and safety, to expanding a station’s capacity to meet increasing electricity demand and support the integration of variable renewables.

Asia is home to around half the world’s installed hydropower capacity, at almost 650 GW. Hydropower is therefore a major contributor to the region’s electricity mix, accounting for around 14 per cent of total annual electricity generation. Countries such as Afghanistan, Bhutan, Cambodia, Georgia, the Kyrgyz Republic, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal and Tajikistan rely on hydropower for over half of annual generation. 

IHA has estimated that more than a third of the continent’s capacity will require, or have undergone, modernisation by 2030. Excluding China, which has a larger proportion of newer hydropower plants, this figure rises to around half of existing capacity.

The new research from AIIB and IHA, conducted over an eight-month period, found the countries with most hydropower capacity in need of modernisation and further investigation are India and Turkey.  


The main drivers behind the need for hydropower modernisation range from upgrading ageing equipment, to improving energy performance, reducing environmental impacts, and complementing renewables like solar and wind.

Nicholas Troja, IHA Senior Analyst, commented: “Over the coming decade, the region's need for reliable and sustainable energy will grow immensely. If properly managed and invested in strategically, hydropower’s existing capacity will form the backbone of this energy transition and be essential in meeting the objectives set out in both the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.”

“IHA is pleased to have collaborated with AIIB on this important study and we look forward to future joint initiatives to further support modernisation across the hydropower sector in Asia,” he added.

Modernisation options include retrofitting ageing turbines and other equipment with state-of-the-art technology, and digitalising operations with installing new smart controls, intelligent condition monitoring and remotely operated systems. Other options include adding floating solar photovoltaics (PV) to an existing reservoir or developing solar-hydro hybrids that save on land and grid connection costs.

The decision to upgrade a plant will often be influenced by a range of factors, including electricity prices and market design, as the study explains. It stresses the need for governments to develop enabling policies to encourage investment, otherwise they risk having to decommission ageing hydropower stations and losing reliable, renewable generation capacity.

The study was completed in March 2020 and also involved a high-level cost benchmarking exercise to help inform understanding of investment cost ranges for modernisation. The AIIB working paper published this week presents a condensed version of IHA’s final report. This working paper was authored by David Morgado from AIIB and Nicholas Troja, Amina Kadyrzhanova and David Samuel from IHA. 

The 19 countries covered are Azerbaijan, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

Learn more about IHA's work on improving hydropower asset management and modernisation including a study in Latin America with the Inter-American Development Bank.

Read the AIIB-IHA working paper. Read the AIIB blog on The Growing Need for Hydropower Modernisation in Asia.

Contact Nicholas Troja at for more information.

25 August 2020

The Dibwangui hydropower project in Gabon has been rated as an example of international good practice in sustainability design and planning, following an independent assessment. 

Plans for the 15 megawatt plant in the central African country achieved globally recognised good practice across 11 environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance criteria examined in the study.


Figure: Aerial plan of proposed Dibwangui project from the assessment report  

When completed, the hydroelectric plant in Ngounié province will power the country’s south-west region and support local rural communities currently without electricity. The Dibwangui project is being developed by Louetsi Hydro, a special purpose vehicle of Eranove Group and the Gabonese Strategic Investment Fund (FGIS). 

The assessment was undertaken using the Hydropower Sustainability ESG Gap Analysis Tool, an innovative new tool which identifies and addresses any gaps against good practice. Assessment criteria include environmental and social management, community impacts, biodiversity, climate change, labour conditions, and communications and consultation.

This is the first time a project in Africa has published an assessment using the tool, which was developed by the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Council, a group of civil society, governments, industry and financial institutions, together with the International Hydropower Association (IHA).


Alain Kilajian, Sustainability Specialist at IHA, said: “Hydropower projects help countries to increase access to electricity while delivering on social and economic development priorities. With this new assessment tool, it is now possible to determine whether these projects are being planned and built responsibly and sustainably in accordance with international standards. Eranove Group deserve credit for commissioning this independent, rigorous and transparent report.”

Responding to the assessment, Eranove Group CEO Marc Albérola said: “The results of this evaluation confirm Eranove Group's commitment to the sustainable operation of its hydropower facilities. Hydropower is an energy source which meets the dual imperative of being competitive and low carbon. This study confirms the Dibwangui project’s compliance with good environmental and social practices that we have delivered together with the Gabonese Strategic Investment Fund. I thank FGIS for its trust.”

Gabonese Minister of Water, Forests, the Sea and the Environment, Professor Lee White, stated: "We are proud that a Gabonese hydroelectric project is the first in French-speaking Africa to be audited using the ESG tool. I salute the commitment of the FGIS-Eranove Group, which is taking a further step towards sustainable hydroelectricity in Gabon and Africa.”

Alain Claude Bilie-By-Nzé, Gabon's Minister of State for Energy and Water Resources, added: “As part of the Paris Climate Agreement, Gabon has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 per cent by 2025 by initiating an energy transition focused mainly on hydropower. The Dibwangui power plant is one of these projects. It will make it possible to sustainably meet the energy needs of isolated communities while contributing to the development of the economic fabric of Ngounié and the well-being of the local population.” 

In the study, independent assessor Margaret Trias determined the project team had carefully engaged nearby communities during planning and development and the consultation process was open and transparent. “What the project has done really well is to establish an excellent relationship with nearby communities throughout its pre-feasibility and feasibility stages,” she said.

“The project includes restoring an existing electrical distribution line that has not been in service for many years and which was high on the communities’ list of priorities. As they have no access to electricity, this was something the project had not initially envisaged but that eventually became one of its benefits. When speaking to the community members you had a sense of their pride in showing you around and explaining what the project would look like,” she added.

The assessment between September and October 2019 involved reviewing project plans and interviewing the developer, local community members, national and local government authorities and The Nature Conservancy NGO. 

The report is publicly available (in French) on the website.

Learn more about sustainability in hydropower:

To enquire about the assessment process, please contact


Hydropower Sustainability Tools

The Hydropower Sustainability Tools were developed by the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Council, a governing council representing industry, government, financial institutions and social and environmental NGOs. The tools are published by IHA as the council’s secretariat.

The tools comprise:



IHA is delighted to welcome new Head of Policy Alex Campbell. Alex has extensive experience in energy policy.

He was previously head of contracts for Difference Policy, the UK Government's flagship renewable electricity deployment scheme.

Other experience includes roles leading the UK's engagement with multi-national civil nuclear bodies, designing the regulatory framework for smart meters in Britain and supporting the development of onshore wind. He holds an MSc in Climate Change and an MA in International Political Economy. 



Mr Campbell said:"Sustainable hydropower has a key role to play in tackling dangerous climate change and supporting the economic development of communities across the globe. I'm very excited to be joining IHA at such an important and challenging time." 

IHA CEO Eddie Rich added: “Alex’s wealth of experience, enterprise and commitment will strengthen IHA’s ability to advance sustainable hydropower to help tackle climate change – the biggest challenge of our generation. He brings credibility, contacts and knowledge. We are delighted to have him join the team.”

Hydropower Europe has launched its second online consultation on priorities for proposed research and innovation actions.



The Hydropower Europe (HPE) forum is built on the ambition to achieve a Research & Innovation Agenda (RIA) and Strategic Industry Roadmap (SIR) for the sector in Europe.

The focus of the second online consultation is to gather feedback from a wide range of stakeholders on the proposed actions listed within these two documents. This is one of the last opportunities for stakeholders to influence research and innovation priorities for the future of hydropower in Europe; and how hydropower can contribute to a successful clean energy transition.

The consultation consists of a 20-minute online survey. To participate, please click on the link below and register on the HPE Consultation Platform.

The survey will close at the end of October 2020.

The Hydropower Europe consortium comprises 8 partners: ICOLD: International Commission on Large Dams (coordinator); EASE: European Association for Storage of Energy; EREF: European Renewable Energies Federation; EUREC: Association of European Renewable Energy Research Centres;  IHA: International Hydropower Association; SAMUI: Samui France sarl; VGB: VGB PowerTech e.V.; and Zabala Innovation Consulting (Zabala Brussels).