You are here


13 September 2018

Experienced professionals working in the hydropower community can now apply to become a Fellow of the International Hydropower Association (IHA).

IHA, a not-for-profit organisation committed to advancing sustainable hydropower, is launching Fellow membership to acknowledge the valuable contributions of professionals at the forefront of the sector’s development.

IHA Fellows (left to right) Gil Maranhão Neto F.IHA, Chief Strategy, Communications and CSR Officer at Engie Brasil; Christine Cantin F.IHA, Senior Advisor at Hydro-Québec; and Moisés Machava F.IHA, Executive Director of Hydroélectrica de Cahora Bassa.
Announcing the new initiative, Richard Taylor, Chief Executive of IHA, said: “Since IHA was formed more than 20 years ago we have championed continuous improvement and sustainable practices in the hydropower sector. In offering Fellow membership, we are seeking to recognise senior professionals who, through their service and commitment, have moved the sector forward and been an inspiration to others.”
IHA Fellow status, under which an individual is entitled to use the letters ‘F.IHA’ as a professional title, is awarded on the basis of proven experience and provides an opportunity to join a global network of hydropower experts from all regions of the world.

Fellows of IHA will have the opportunity to contribute their wealth of knowledge, experience and ideas to IHA’s work and programmes, in support of its mission to advance sustainable hydropower, and will receive invitations to special events including dedicated online groups, expert panels and webinars.
To qualify, an individual must share a commitment to the values and mission of IHA and have at least five years’ experience in a senior management position in the hydropower sector, or 10 years’ experience in a specialist field relating to hydropower. The individual must be a current member of IHA.
Applicants are required to submit an application form summarising how their professional experience meets the eligibility criteria. The individual must also provide two supporting professional referees. There is no fee for Fellow membership: F.IHA status is awarded on merit alone.
To find out more and to apply to become a Fellow of IHA, visit

5 September 2018

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the International Hydropower Association (IHA) have signed a partnership agreement to support sustainable development involving hydropower across Latin America and the Caribbean.

The memorandum of understanding agreed by the heads of the two organisations seeks to expand opportunities for the exchange and adoption of good industry practices with the goal of enhancing the technical, social, economic and environmental performance of new and existing projects.  


The joint IDB-IHA workshop was attended by more than 130 people, including representatives from over ten IHA member organisations from Asia, Europe, North America and South America.

The IDB provides loans, grants and technical assistance for major renewable energy projects and champions research into climate change and sustainability, innovation and social inclusion.

IHA is an international non-profit association established under the auspices of UNESCO. With members in more than 100 countries, the association’s mission is to advance sustainable hydropower by building and sharing knowledge renewable energy systems, freshwater management and climate change solutions.

On signing the agreement, IDB´s Infrastructure and Energy Sector Manager Agustin Aguerre said: "One of the key drivers for this collaboration is that both institutions have a strong focus on supporting sustainable development. The focus in this particular case is hydropower. We are thrilled to work with IHA in the development of solutions, programmes and the advancement of hydropower as one of the cleanest energy sources that will foster the Latin American and the Caribbean’s advancement.”

IHA Chief Executive Richard Taylor said: “IHA is delighted to partner with the Inter-American Development Bank. The bank was an important voice in the development of the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol, the internationally recognised tool for assessing hydropower’s performance. This new agreement will expand opportunities for collaboration and knowledge sharing and support the adoption of good practices in the planning, financing, development, operation and modernisation of hydropower projects.”

The partnership agreement follows a joint IDB-IHA international workshop which was held last week to build knowledge on how digital systems are advancing hydropower operations, maintenance and modernisation in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The workshop on 27 and 28 August was hosted by the Joint Technical Commission of Salto Grande, a major binational hydropower project on the Uruguay River between Argentina and Uruguay. To find out more please visit the event webpage

The role of digital systems in advancing hydropower operations will be on the agenda of the World Hydropower Congress, to be held in Paris between 14 and 16 May 2019. The conference is organised in partnership with UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme. Register your interest at

27 July 2018

The first global review of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) on water and energy took place at a recent high-level United Nations forum in New York, USA. 

The 2018 UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development saw 47 countries carry out voluntary national reviews of several SDGs, including SDGs 6 and 7.


Despite adoption of the SDGs in 2015, the world still faces a water and energy crisis, with more than a billion people lacking access to electricity and over two billion without safely managed water services.

Richard Taylor, Chief Executive of the International Hydropower Association (IHA), said: “Meeting the SDGs on water and energy can only be realised if we build clean energy systems, manage freshwater responsibly and deliver climate change solutions. If we work on SDGs 6 and 7 in an integrated way, there’s a good chance we will achieve all our sustainability goals.”

Integrated approaches for water and energy to help achieve the SDGs was the focus of a seminar hosted by the Sustainable Water and Energy Solutions Partnership, a new initiative between UN DESA and IHA platinum member Itaipu Binacional.

Participants discussed the need for holistic implementation of water and energy solutions and shared ideas, innovations, programmes, partnerships and business models.

The Sustainable Water and Energy Solutions Partnership was launched in March to find solutions to the world’s pressing energy and water challenges. It will work over an initial four-year period to promote water and energy sustainability, as well as other SDGs in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

IHA’s Richard Taylor sits on the partnership’s steering committee, which met for the first time during the forum, alongside representatives from UN DESA, Itaipu Binacional, governments, businesses, civil society and international organisations.

The sixth annual United Nations High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, titled ‘Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies’, took place between 9 and 18 July.

Alongside water and energy, the forum looked at goal 11, sustainable cities and communities; goal 12, responsible consumption and production; goal 15, life on land; and goal 17, partnerships for the goals.

Find out more about the 2018 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development online.

25 July 2018

We were deeply saddened to hear of the major flood incident at the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy project in Laos on Monday night. We are monitoring the situation closely. Our thoughts are with everyone affected and all those involved in the recovery and relief effort.

IHA will be working rigorously with partners to understand and share knowledge about this incident. As a first step, we are sharing the information known to IHA at this stage.

The Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy project

On Monday 23 July, one of the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy project’s saddle dams failed and caused severe flooding into the Xe-Pian River, affecting several villages in the Sanamxay district. Detailed investigations by authorities and SK Engineering & Construction, the lead company responsible for building the dam, are still underway.

Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy Power Company (PNPC), the owner of the project, is a joint venture between SK Engineering & Construction, Korea Western Power, Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding and Lao Holding State Enterprise.

Underpinning the financing of the project was a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) between PNPC and the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, which would see 90 per cent of electricity exported to Thailand. The remaining 10 per cent is part of a PPA between PNPC and Électricité du Laos. Under the terms of development, the project is intended to become the property of the Laotian government after 27 years.

Hydropower in Laos and regional interconnections

Laos has 4,984 MW of installed hydropower capacity and generated an estimated 22.7 TWh last year. It has a much larger theoretical potential of around 26.5 GW.

Laos continues to expand its generating capacity with an increasing emphasis on regional integration. Over 50 new hydropower projects are under consideration across the country, representing 8,000 MW of additional capacity if all were to be realised. Several projects totalling 166 MW were commissioned in 2017.

Driven by strong economic growth, energy demand in Southeast Asia has grown by 60 per cent over the past 15 years. According to the International Energy Agency, the region is expected to grow by a further 60 per cent by 2040.

Laos is a key power exporter to the Southeast Asia region. Currently, Laos sells its electricity to Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia and Vietnam. Thailand is its main market, requiring up to 9,000 MW capacity by 2025. Laos is looking to expand its sales to Malaysia via Thailand’s electrical interconnection, and then to Singapore through Malaysia. In the first nine months of 2017, Laos exported 19 TWh of electricity, worth about USD 975 million. This was an increase of 25 per cent compared with the same period in 2016.

Laos transmits electricity into Thailand at various locations, including from the Nam Theun 2 hydropower station (1,090 MW), through an interconnection at the Thai border near Savannakhet, and at further connections to the northeast of Thailand. Theun Hinboun hydropower station (440 MW) exports electricity through transmission lines in south central Laos into Thailand, and the Nam Ngum hydropower stations (Phase 1 is 155 MW and Phase 2 is 615 MW) export electricity further to the north.

Hydropower stations are also connected to Vietnam’s electricity grid, with interconnections in the south of Laos fed by the Xekaman Phase 1 (290 MW) and Phase 3 (250 MW) stations.

IHA has offered collaboration to Laos on sharing relevant experience within its international network of members and partners, and stands ready to support the government and all organisations involved in hydropower development and operations.

24 May 2018

A new study of the greenhouse gas footprint of almost 500 reservoirs worldwide, which applied the G-res Tool for assessing net emissions, indicates that hydropower is one of the cleanest energy sources.

The greenhouse gas footprint of hydropower has long been questioned in both scientific and policy spheres, especially with regard to emissions caused by the creation of a reservoir. There has been a lack of scientific consensus on how to quantify this footprint, and this uncertainty has proved a significant obstacle for policy and decision makers concerning the financing of hydropower projects and whether they achieve the designation of being climate-friendly.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in its Fifth Assessment Report published in 2014, noted that only onshore and offshore wind and nuclear power have lower median lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions than hydropower. However the panel cautioned that few studies had appraised the net emissions of freshwater reservoirs, allowing for pre-existing natural sources and sinks and unrelated human emission sources.

The challenge of assessing net climate emissions

Over the years, a number of researchers have measured gross reservoir emissions at sites around the world, but the results of each study cannot be reliably applied to other reservoirs, even in the same region. The biochemical processes leading to emissions from a reservoir are highly complex, and life-cycle emissions are very specific to the siting and design of each hydropower facility.

Emissions relating to the construction and operation of a dam, due to fossil fuel combustion and cement/steel production, can vary depending on its type and size. Once filled, factors such as a reservoir’s depth and shape, the amount of sun reaching its floor, and wind speed, affect the different biogeochemical pathways by which CO2 and CH4 are created and released to the atmosphere.

The process of taking measurements to determine the greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint of a hydropower facility or reservoir can be cumbersome or prohibitively expensive. Calculating the net change in emissions caused by a reservoir is highly challenging.

Development of the G-res Tool

Against this backdrop, the GHG Reservoir (G-res) Tool was developed by IHA and UNESCO in cooperation with researchers from the University of Quebec at Montreal (UQÀM) in Canada, the Norwegian Foundation for Scientific and Industrial Research (SINTEF) and the Natural Resources Institute of Finland (LUKE). This research was supported by the World Bank and sponsors from the hydropower sector.

The tool was devised to enable companies, investors and other stakeholders to more accurately estimate the net change in GHG emissions attributable to the creation of a specific reservoir. It takes into account the state of the land pre-impoundment, considering naturally occurring emissions and emissions related to other human activities over the lifetime of the reservoir. It also provides a method for apportioning the net GHG footprint to the various freshwater services that a reservoir provides, such as water supply for irrigation and cities, flood and drought management, navigation, fisheries and recreation.

The G-res tool was formally launched, after more than a decade of development work, at the World Hydropower Congress in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in May 2017.

Worldwide study of hydropower reservoirs

During 2017, researchers from IHA undertook a study of 498 reservoirs worldwide using the G-res Tool. The study looked at reservoirs in boreal, temperate, subtropical and tropical climates more than 50 countries in North and Central America, South America, Europe, Africa, South and Central Asia, East Asia and the Pacific.


The study used the G-res tool to estimate the GHG footprint of 178 single purpose hydropower reservoirs and 320 multipurpose reservoirs, excluding emissions caused by construction activity. This data was coupled with project-specific installed hydropower capacity and average annual generation data to obtain the emissions intensity of each site’s hydropower operations.

The global median GHG emission intensity of the hydropower reservoirs included in the study was 18.5 gCO2-eq/kWh; this is the grams of carbon dioxide equivalent per kilowatt-hour of electricity generated allocated to hydropower over a life-cycle. The majority, or 84 per cent of reservoirs, exhibited emissions less than 100 gCO2-eq/kWh. For a comparison with the median values of other electricity sources, see figure 1.

Temperature is one of the variables that has, in theory, a significant effect on reservoir emissions. However mean annual temperature is only one of many variables that influence GHG emissions. The G-res Tool includes other input variables such as the soil carbon content of the reservoir, depth of the thermocline, reservoir drawdown area and the catchment annual run-off. The second figure above shows the emissions intensity attributable to hydropower reservoirs categorised by their respective climate zones.

The IHA study, which is to be submitted for peer review, confirms in part that the vast majority of hydropower reservoirs are producing very low-carbon power, some reservoirs in every climate category can potentially have high emissions exceeding 100 gCO2-eq/kWh (defined by the Climate Bonds Initiative to be an important threshold).

Figure 2 shows the relationship between the GHG emissions intensity (gCO2-eq/kWh) plotted against the power density of the projects (W/m2). High emissions intensities are possible from hydropower reservoirs, even on the same order of magnitude as fossil fuel generators, but only at extremely low power densities. Low power density however does not necessarily translate to high emissions intensity, as many projects with low power densities have emissions intensities well below 100 gCO2-eq/kWh (left of the red line).


It bears noting that the emissions intensity identified from this study applies only to hydropower projects with large reservoirs; many hydropower projects, often run-of-river, do not flood significant areas of land and consequently will have even lower emissions. It should also be noted that hydropower facilities equipped with reservoir storage provide many other valuable power and water benefits. By storing water in a reservoir, a project can offer balancing and ancillary services, delivering dispatachable power when needed. A reservoir also provides water for vital non-power uses such as flood control and drought management, and water supply for municipalities and agriculture.

This article is featured in the 2018 Hydropower Status Report.