14 February 2019
There is just under a month left for young engineers and scientists to apply for the International Hydropower Association’s (IHA) prestigious Young Researcher Award.
The award recognises emerging talent researching hydropower, water and energy systems and will be presented at the between 14 to 16 May in Paris.
Open to academic researchers aged under 30, entrants are invited to submit a short article summarising their work (no more than 1,500 words). The subject must be relevant to at least one of the topics under discussion at the upcoming World Hydropower Congress.
The winner will receive a year’s individual membership with IHA and free registration to the 2019 Congress, where they will be invited to present their research. Those who make the shortlist will have their articles published on the IHA website.
IHA’s Chief Executive Richard Taylor said: “The IHA Young Researcher Award provides an opportunity for young innovators to share their research with key representatives from the hydropower sector, government, financial and academic institutions and civil society. It is a rare chance to bring specialist research findings to the attention of policy-makers from around the world.”
The award was first presented at the 2015 World Hydropower Congress in Beijing, China, where it was won by Sami Khan of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for his work on hydrophobic rare-earth oxide coatings and their potential application in hydropower systems.
It was awarded again at the 2017 World Hydropower Congress in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The recipients were Alexandros Korkovelos of KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sara Mercier-Blais of the University of Quebec in Montreal and Rafael Schmitt of UC Berkeley.
Since winning the award, Dr Schmitt has become Lead Hydrologist and a postdoctoral researcher at The Natural Capital Project at Stanford University. He referred to the experience as a “pivotal moment” for his research.
“The World Hydropower Congress exposed me to real-world challenges and led me to direct my research towards decision-relevant research questions. The network I established during the Congress has led to ongoing collaborations and research opportunities with key actors in the hydropower sector,” said Dr Schmitt.
This sentiment was echoed by Ms Mercier-Blais, for whom the Congress was a “first step” into the hydropower sector. “By attending different panel sessions, I learned about many subjects, which has helped me to better understand the context I am now working with.”
Mr Korkovelos, a PHD Researcher at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, added: “Winning the award definitely had a positive impact on my career as it gave rise to new, interesting opportunities. The Congress provided the chance to get informed about the newest developments in hydropower and meet with experts in the field.”
The 2019 World Hydropower Congress will focus on hydropower’s role in delivering the Paris Climate Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals. It is expected to bring together representatives from more than 100 countries.
To qualify, entrants must have been born after 31 December 1988 and must be affiliated with an academic institution. To find out more about the IHA Young Researcher Award, including the full entry criteria, visit
14 February 2019
A new multi-partner initiative – led by the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD) and supported by the International Hydropower Association (IHA) – aims to agree common research and innovation priorities for the hydropower sector in Europe.
HYDROPOWER EUROPE is funded by the European Union’s to provide a forum for the European hydropower community and representatives active throughout the sector’s value-chain, including industry, researchers, policy makers, end users and academia.
The three-year project will develop a strategic research and innovation agenda and technology roadmap to guide funding authorities, such as the European Commission, to prioritise support aimed at helping the hydropower sector adapt to a constantly evolving energy system.
According to IHA’s , hydropower remains the single largest source of renewable electricity across Europe, generating an estimated 600 TWh of clean electricity in 2017 - about 12 per cent of Europe’s electricity generation.
The HYDROPOWER EUROPE initiative will begin consultation with the European hydropower community through a series of online and face to face meetings, including regional workshops to develop the research and innovation agenda and technology roadmap.
“We are thrilled by the new opportunity this project offers the hydropower community in Europe,” said Anton Schleiss, Honorary President of ICOLD. “Our responsibility towards our sector is very high. We have the task to bring a multitude of actors together and bring their voice to the European level so as to make our contribution to the energy transition, for which hydropower in Europe can be a catalyst.”
The HYDROPOWER EUROPE initiative will be presented at a at the between 14 and 15 May 2019, which brings together senior representatives of industry, government, finance and civil society to set priorities for the future of the sector.
IHA Chief Executive Richard Taylor said: “The transition to a low-carbon economy in Europe begins with the energy system. Hydropower will play an integral part in this transformation, reducing Europe’s dependence on fossil fuels and supporting growth in variable renewables such as wind and solar.
“This forum, HYDROPOWER EUROPE, will engage Europe’s hydropower community and foster communication and cooperation to align priorities in research and development (R&D) to support the pathway to a sustainable future.”
Mathis Rogner, IHA Senior Analyst, added: “By examining the unique set of policy, technological and scientific challenges facing the hydropower sector, HYDROPOWER EUROPE will look at new and innovative approaches to the development and application of technological and social processes as they relate to the energy transition.”
Led by the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD), HYDROPOWER EUROPE initiative partners are:
- The European Association for Storage of Energy (EASE)
- The European Renewable Energy Federation
- The European Renewable Energy Federation (EREF)
- The Association of European Renewable Energy Research Centres (EUREC)
- The International Hydropower Association (IHA)
- SAMUI, which brings expertise in water and environmental research, and communication and dissemination
- VGB PowerTech, the international technical association for generation and storage of power and heat
- ZABALA, a consultancy in energy-related platforms as well as project dissemination and communication.
For more information please visit the HYDROPOWER EUROPE website: hydropower.org/hydropower-europe
8 February 2019
Private developers, investors and government agencies examined the “great potential” for independently owned and sustainably managed hydro projects in emerging economies at a recent workshop in London, UK.
Organised by the International Hydropower Association (IHA), the workshop on 1 February 2019 looked at solutions to environmental, social, financial, legal and technical challenges brought forward by private sector hydropower development, with a focus on projects built in Africa.
Despite recent growth in private investment in Africa’s power sector, only around 10 per cent of the continent’s economically feasible hydropower potential has been developed. Independent power producers (IPPs) form part of the power sector in the majority of African countries, but hydropower IPPs are less common.
Anton-Louis Olivier, CEO of Renewable Energy Holdings (REH), an investor, developer, owner and operator of hydropower projects across southern and eastern Africa, emphasised the “great potential for sustainable hydropower development” in the region.
Addressing the significant disparity between utilised hydropower capacity in Africa and other world regions, Mr Olivier said: “It’s important that private developers utilise the benefits of sustainable hydropower to respond to the increasing opportunities for independent power producers in Africa.”
Rebecca Wooding, Infrastructure Advisor at the UK Department for International Development (DFID), also noted the “huge potential for growth” of many low-income African countries as “much of the permanent, long-term infrastructure is still to be built.”
Kelly Malone, Partner and Head of the Global Power Team at King & Spalding law firm, highlighted the 420 MW run-of-river Nachtigal hydropower project, which is under development in Cameroon. Mr Malone praised the public-private partnership between the government of Cameroon, EDF and the International Finance Corporation (IFC). “From a historic standpoint, this is probably one of the most important milestones for the financing of hydropower in Africa,” Mr Malone commented.
Considerations for external stakeholders and local communities formed a large part of the day’s discussions. “People are at the heart of development and water has huge emotional, cultural and livelihood value to people and the ecosystems they depend on,” stated Shibani Bose, Environmental and Social Officer at FMO, the Dutch development bank.
Duncan Russell, Technical Director at Environmental Resources Management, remarked on the importance of investment decisions being informed by sustainability assessments. “Funders are fundamentally interested because they want to make lending decisions which are based on solid and sound background that integrates up to date engineering design with current and future environmental needs in a transparent manner,” he said.
Richard Taylor, Chief Executive of IHA, closed the workshop by saying: “Finding solutions to advance hydropower development will depend on getting a pipeline of good projects designed to deliver what is needed in the countries and regions that will be hosting them.”
The workshop was organised in partnership with REH and King & Spalding, which hosted the event at its London office. It is part of a series of focused events leading up to the , 14-16 May in Paris, France.
IHA members can access presentations and photos from the workshop in , IHA’s online member community. Please contact for information on becoming a member.
IHA members and non-members can now register for the World Hydropower Congress, which includes 37 focused sessions and workshops on topics including project ownership and financing, integrated planning, river basin development, small-scale power systems, and sustainability reporting.
Visit the World Hydropower Congress website for more details:
19 December 2018
The UN climate conference in Katowice, Poland, concluded this weekend with agreement by 196 countries on plans for a common rulebook for bringing the Paris Agreement into force by 2020.
The rulebook outlines how governments should report their greenhouse gas emissions and contributions to climate finance, as well as rules about voluntary market mechanisms such as carbon trading.
Governments also agreed to revise and enhance their climate action commitments, as described in so-called Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), before 2020.
Representatives of IHA and its member organisations led discussions about hydropower’s contribution to climate change solutions, the highlight of which was the launch by Itaipu Binacional and the United Nations of a new Global Network of Sustainable Water and Energy Solutions.
“For the sake of our future generations, the time to act is now,” said IHA Chief Executive Richard Taylor, a member of the Global Network’s steering committee, as he commended the Brazilian-Paraguayan hydropower operator and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs for the new initiative.
José Alberto Alderete Rodríguez, Itaipu’s Paraguayan Director-General, called on more organisations to be engaged to “combat climate change”. “It is time to act, to move from commitment to practice, and this is the vision we have,” he said.
"Itaipu works for the border region of Brazil and Paraguay, and for the world, especially to improve capacities in water and energy management, which is fundamental to promote sustainable development and the implementation of Agenda 2030,” added Marcos Stamm, the organisation’s Brazilian Director General.
As a member of the International Renewable Energy Alliance (REN Alliance), IHA also participated in a joint side event on 11 December looking at the changes required to the global power sector if governments are to deliver the Paris Agreement.
"The energy transition means a fundamental transformation of the way we, as a global society, use, supply, buy and sell electricity," said IHA Senior Analyst Mathis, as he outlined hydropower's contribution in enabling countries such as Portugal and Costa Rica to achieve 100 per cent renewable electricity in 2018.
Pumped storage, floating photovoltaics and innovative co-location projects are all supporting growth in variable renewables, Mr Rogner noted, with hydropower continuing to innovate with digitalisation supporting new “smart” grids. “This will help hydropower evolve and do a better job of balancing variable renewables,” he added.
During the conference, IHA and the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Council, a coalition of industry, civil society, governments and financial institutions, also launched new Hydropower Sustainability Guidelines on Good International Industry Practice. The 26 guidelines define expected sustainability performance around a range of environmental, social, technical and governance topics relevant to hydropower.
The COP24 conference was the last major event for the energy and hydropower sector in 2018, ahead of the World Hydropower Congress in May 2019, which is now open for registration.
18 December 2018
An additional 78,000 megawatts (MW) in clean energy storage capacity is expected to come online by 2030 from hydropower reservoirs fitted with pumped storage technology, according to the International Hydropower Association (IHA).
In a working paper published today, The World’s Water Battery: Pumped Hydropower Storage and the Clean Energy Transition, IHA also estimates that pumped hydropower storage projects globally now store up to 9,000 gigawatt hours (GWh).
“Pumped hydropower storage (PHS) accounts for over 94 per cent of global energy storage capacity, ahead of lithium-ion and other forms of storage,” said IHA Senior Analyst Nicholas Troja, one of the paper’s authors. “It will play a critical role in the clean energy transition by supporting variable renewable energy, reducing greenhouse emissions and providing stability to power grids.”
With more than 100 projects currently in the pipeline, existing pumped hydropower storage capacity is expected to increase by almost 50 per cent by 2030 – from 161,000 MW today to 239,000 MW – according to the working paper which draws on data from IHA’s Hydropower Pumped Storage Tracking Tool.
The working paper describes the benefits of pumped storage as power systems seek to incorporate more wind and solar projects into their portfolios. Innovations such as variable speed pump-turbines and ternary systems are allowing for faster and wider operating ranges, providing additional flexibility at all timescales, and enabling higher penetrations of variable renewable energy at lower system costs.
The authors also investigate current business models and emerging opportunities for financing PHS projects, particularly in liberalised energy markets, while warning of barriers to future development. Despite the projected growth in PHS capacity, they note that policy and market frameworks are not properly incentivising and rewarding the services it provides.
“Pumped storage technology and operations support the energy transition, however policies and market frameworks have struggled to catch up and are failing to adequately reward the flexibility provided by hydropower,” added Mr Troja.
The publication is released alongside a major update to IHA’s Hydropower Pumped Storage Tracking Tool, which shows the status of PHS projects around the world, their installed generating and pumping capacity, and their actual or planned date of commissioning.
Visit the Hydropower Pumped Storage Tracking Tool: hydropower.org/pumpedstoragetool
IHA Senior Analyst Mathis Rogner said: “The working paper draws on data newly available through the Hydropower Pumped Storage Tracking Tool, the most comprehensive online resource of its kind on the world's water batteries. This builds on IHA’s knowledge building programme involving sector monitoring and analysis to inform discussion and debate about new trends and developments in the hydropower sector.”
The December 2018 update to the tracking tool includes additional information on PHS projects, both operational and in various stages of development. The tool’s interactive map includes configuration details for each project, including estimations of total energy stored and maximum head.
The working paper concludes by setting out the policy areas and knowledge gaps that would benefit from further research and discussion to advance the role of pumped hydropower storage in clean energy systems.
At the World Hydropower Congress, in Paris between 14-16 May 2019, decision-makers, policy-makers, experts and innovators from across the sector will explore the changing landscape for pumped storage. A focus session on 15 May will look at the policy and market mechanisms that are required to ensure stable power grids and cost-effective pumped hydro operations.
Register for the World Hydropower Congress today and take advantage of early bird pricing at hydropower.org/congress