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While the Covid-19 pandemic is the world’s most pressing threat with its tragic impacts on families everywhere requiring urgent action, we must not lose sight of climate targets and the sustainable development goals.

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The International Hydropower Association (IHA) has teamed up with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and more than 100 renewable energy organisations to issue a joint call for action urging policy-makers to prioritise green growth as part of their Covid-19 recovery plans.

The recommendations cover a range of priority actions to ensure a rapid and sustained economic recovery, promoting renewable solutions as well as the need for market and policy frameworks that support storage and flexibility - services which are provided by sustainable hydropower.

The call for action says: “To provide long-term policy certainty in this time of crisis, governments must consider affirming existing and planned support schemes, as well as continuing to implement appropriate market and policy frameworks that support grid development, storage and flexibility, and other infrastructure critical to support a higher penetration of renewable energy.

“Permitting and siting approvals should be fast-tracked so that the renewable energy industry can plan ahead and protect its workforce.”

Last week IRENA published its 2020 Global Renewables Outlook, which called for stimulus and recovery packages that will “accelerate the shift to sustainable, decarbonised economies and resilient inclusive societies”.

Recovery measures should include investment in “interconnected hydropower” among other technologies, said IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera. “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 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. Policy-makers and planners around the world need to "start thinking now" about building new hydropower projects, the organisation said.

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."

In the joint statement, the IRENA Coalition for Action call on governments to:

  • Revisit deadlines for renewable energy projects that face contractual obligations for near-term delivery.
  • Designate the renewable energy industry and related infrastructure as a critical and essential sector. 
  • Affirm and extend policies promoting renewable energy solutions, both centralised and decentralised.
  • Prioritise renewable energy in any stimulus measures and commit to phasing out support for fossil fuels. 
  • Provide public financial support to safeguard the industry and mobilise private investment in renewable energy. 
  • Enhance the role of renewable energy in industrial policies.
  • Revise labour and education policies to foster a just transition and help workers make the shift into renewable energy jobs.
  • Strengthen international co-operation and action to accelerate renewable energy deployment in line with global climate and sustainability objectives.

Read more about the IRENA Coalition for Action and its joint call for action.

27 April 2020

Technical guidance to help the hydropower sector become more resilient to climate change is now available in the Russian language.

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IHA’s Hydropower Sector Climate Resilience Guide offers a methodology for identifying, assessing and managing climate risks.

The guidance aims to help owners, developers and investors make informed decisions when planning, building, upgrading and operating hydropower facilities amid variable climatic and hydrological conditions.

The guide was developed with the financial and technical support of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the World Bank Group and its Korea Green Growth Trust Fund.

The Russian translation was supported by EBRD.

“EBRD is pleased to have provided resources for the translation of this guide into Russian” said Craig Davies, Head of Climate Resilience Investments at the EBRD. “It will play a crucial role in enhancing hydropower sector climate resilience in several of our countries of operation, in particular in the Caucasus and Central Asia, by enabling a wider range of stakeholders to access the guidance. It will be immediately deployed by the EBRD on the ground in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, the latter involving collaboration with the Green Climate Fund and the Climate Investment Funds.”  

“IHA is pleased to make the Hydropower Sector Climate Resilience Guide available in Russian,” said Maria Ubierna, Senior Specialist at IHA. “We hope to reach a wider audience of project operators and developers in Russian-speaking countries through this edition, and hope they can benefit from international good practice guidance in this area.”

IHA has a strong presence in Russian-speaking countries, with gold members EuroSibEnergo and RusHydro, and affiliates in Russia and Kyrgyzstan.

Recent IHA engagement in Central Asia has included an in-depth study of the region’s modernisation needs in partnership with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). IHA also represented the hydropower sector at events such as Energy Week Uzbekistan 2019.

In February 2020, IHA launched a USD 1 million Hydropower Sustainability ESG Assessment Fund with support from the government of Switzerland. The first tranche of funding is available for projects in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan among other countries.

Read the Hydropower Sector Climate Resilience Guide in English and Russian.

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.

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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.

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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.

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