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    The move towards digitisation is changing the way in which hydropower plants are operated and maintained. The International Hydropower Association (IHA) estimates that, by 2030, over half of the world’s hydropower plants will be due for upgrade and modernisation or have already been renovated.

    At a meeting of the African Union’s Specialised Technical Committee on Communication and ICT last month in Addis Ababa, Ministers concluded that “digitisation is the greatest opportunity for Africa to drive the fundamental changes of the world in the 21st century, if wisely harnessed and mainstreamed.”

    In the hydropower sector, enhanced digital controls are part of a growing trend towards improving the performance of turbines, plants and equipment, by reducing costs and optimising asset management.

    Equipment manufacturers are embracing digitisation as a way to widen their scope of services. It is their belief that digital control systems and software can play a major role in improving decision-making and supporting hydro operations to work more efficiently with other renewable technologies.

    IHA is closely monitoring the trend towards increased digitisation in hydropower through its knowledge-building programme. Last month we participated in a panel discussion on the subject hosted by Voith Digital Solutions at HYDRO 2017 in Seville, Spain.

    The panellists, who included Voith Vice President Incubation Dr. Felix Flemming and Magdalena Paluch of BCG Digital Ventures, argued that advances in mathematical modelling have led to the development of highly sophisticated optimisation software, and that digital control systems can optimise reservoir management and maximise revenues for power producers.

    Digitisation certainly promises to improve decision making and could be instrumental in the modernisation of the existing fleet of hydropower facilities. 

    Bill Girling on Why Hydropower Will Play a Greater Role in the Digital Age

     

    To put the arguments of the equipment manufacturers to the test, and give hydropower operators and other organisations an opportunity to ask their own questions, on 28 November IHA hosted a webinar on ‘The digitisation revolution in hydropower operations and maintenance’.

    Over 60 of our members joined the online forum to hear representatives from GE and Voith discuss the latest innovations in digitisation and how it may change the way they operate and maintain hydropower assets.

    The presenters were quizzed about issues of cyber security, skills and recruitment, and whether digitisation is just for developed countries. An important outcome of the webinar centered on the importance of building institutional capacity in developing country contexts.

    At IHA, we are committed to helping our members to expand knowledge on the digitisation of hydropower. We want to help members understand and overcome the common challenges associated with the operation and maintenance of planned and existing facilities.

    To assist in building capacity among our membership, IHA is supporting industry leaders in OECD countries to share their experiences with peers in other regions. This is a product of IHA’s knowledge programmes, and our longstanding experience working with the World Bank among other international financial institutions.

    Future activities around this important topic will be announced in 2018, with the aim of holding a focus session on digitisation at the World Hydropower Congress in Paris in May 2019. In the meantime, if you have any questions please contact me at bg@hydropower.org for more information.

    The recording of IHA’s webinar on digitisation is available as a resource for all IHA members by contacting communications@hydropower.org.


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    IHA publishes activity and strategy report for 2017-2018

    27 February 2018

    The International Hydropower Association’s Activity and Strategy Report for 2017-2018 is now available online.

    The publication outlines IHA’s priorities and actions to advance sustainable hydropower while providing an annual update on the progress of its knowledge building and sustainability programmes.

    Writing in the report’s foreword, IHA President Ken Adams and IHA Chief Executive Richard Taylor highlight the contribution of IHA’s members to delivering on international climate and development goals.

    “Providing enough clean power for a billion people, hydropower is helping to deliver on the ambition of the Paris Climate Agreement by reducing our reliance on sources with harmful emissions,” Mr Adams and Mr Taylor write.

    “With its economic benefits, its supporting services for other renewables, and freshwater management capability, hydropower also acts as an accelerator for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.”

    The report outlines the work of IHA in advancing policies and strategies that strengthen the sector’s performance and delivering value to members.

    Tools launched over the past year include the G-res Tool for reporting GHG emissions, the Sediment Management Knowledge Hub to help extend the life of reservoirs, and the Pumped Storage Tracking Tool to showcase hydropower’s capacity to provide clean storage solutions.

    IHA priorities for 2018 include the better definition of hydropower’s role in clean energy systems and regional interconnections, unlocking funding for sustainable hydropower projects through green bonds, and promoting new project preparation facilities.

    Knowledge building programmes:

    • Clean energy systems: expanding hydropower’s role
    • Regional interconnections: connecting hydropower
    • Hydropower preparation facility: a model for sustainable projects
    • Green bonds: unlocking the market
    • Climate mitigation: assessing greenhouse gas emissions
    • Climate resilience: developing guidelines
    • Hydropower benefits: better reporting
    • River basin development: promoting collaboration
    • Operations and maintenance: understanding strategies
    • Modernisation: building knowledge on innovation
    • Sediment management: identifying good practices
    • The status of hydropower: monitoring the sector

    Sustainability programmes

    • Supporting the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol
    • Overseeing training and accreditation
    • Developing complementary tools and guidelines
    • Recognising performance through the IHA Blue Planet Prize

    In addition to the IHA membership directory, the report includes information about the next World Hydropower Congress in Paris between 14-16 May 2019. It also showcases highlights from the 2017 Congress in Addis Ababa and IHA’s awards programme.

    “IHA’s success rests on a sense of common purpose among its members, and the collaboration, openness and spirit of friendship at the heart of our global network,” write Mr Adams and Mr Taylor.

    Read the IHA Activity and Strategy Report 2017-2018


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    Hydropower influencers discuss innovations and disruptive tech

    The International Hydropower Association helped share knowledge on innovations and disruptive technologies in the hydropower sector at a recent World Bank workshop in Washington D.C.

    The workshop, convened in April 2018 and co-organised with IHA, brought together hydropower developers, owners, service providers, equipment manufacturers, technical experts and consultants to investigate the benefits and risks of new technological trends.

    Themes under discussion included how innovations can support future energy systems, how digital solutions such as artificial intelligence and blockchain may be relevant to hydropower operations, and the potential impact of technological disruptions on the sector.

    “Hydropower, the largest source of renewable energy worldwide, is an integral component of the transition to cleaner and more sustainable energy systems,” said Mathis Rogner, senior analyst at IHA. “However, a disruption in the energy sector translates to a fundamental transformation in how energy is supplied, distributed and used.

    “This workshop provided an opportunity to explore the extent of the potential impact of innovative technologies on our current systems with the aim of establishing a better understaning in the context of hydropower.”

    The workshop was opened by the World Bank's Senior Director and Head of the Energy and Extractive Industries Global Practice Riccardo Puliti, and its Global Lead for Hydropower and Dams Pravin Karki. IHA was represented by Chief Executive Richard Taylor and Mr Rogner.

    A summary report of the workshop, produced by IHA, is available to members only. If you are an IHA member, contact Mathis Rogner at mathis.rogner@hydropower.org to request a copy. If you are not an IHA member and would like to access this exclusive report, please contact external-relations@hydropower.org about membership opportunities. 


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    2018 Hydropower Status Report shows record rise in clean electricity

    Beijing, China, 24 May 2018

    A record 4,185 terawatt hours (TWh) in electricity was generated from hydropower last year, according to the 2018 Hydropower Status Report, published today.

    The worldwide installed capacity of commissioned hydropower plants rose to 1,267 gigawatts (GW) in 2017, according to the flagship report of the International Hydropower Association (IHA). Some 21.9 GW of capacity was added including 3.2 GW of pumped storage, bringing global pumped storage capacity to 153 GW.

    By generating electricity from hydropower instead of coal, in 2017 the world prevented approximately 4 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases – and avoided a 10 per cent rise in global emissions from fossil fuels and industry – according to analysis by IHA. It also avoided 148 million tonnes of air polluting particulates, 62 million tonnes of sulphur dioxide, and 8 million tonnes of nitrogen oxide from being emitted.

    The 2018 Hydropower Status Report, now in its fifth edition, provides statistics for installed capacity and estimated generation by country and by region.

    It offers insights and key trends on the sector, and features highlight results of a sector-wide survey of leading decision-makers on the future of hydropower.

    Leading energy and environment ministers from Australia; Ethiopia; Sarawak, Malaysia; and Scotland, UK; have contributed to the 2018 edition, explaining how investment in hydropower is supporting national development priorities and the clean energy transition.

    The report shows that growth in hydropower in 2017 was fastest in East Asia and the Pacific, with 9.8 GW of capacity added, followed by South America (4.1 GW), South and Central Asia (3.3 GW), Europe (2.3 GW), Africa (1.9 GW) and North and Central America (0.5 GW).

    China consolidated its status as the world’s largest producer of hydroelectric power, accounting for nearly half of global added installed capacity at 9.1 GW. It was followed by Brazil (3.4 GW), India (1.9 GW), Portugal (1.1 GW) and Angola (1.0 GW).

    In addition, the report publishes findings from a study of the greenhouse gas footprint of 500 large hydropower reservoirs. The research used a new tool to assess net emissions and found hydropower’s median emissions intensity to be just 18.5 gCO2-eq/kWh.

    Richard Taylor, Chief Executive of IHA, announced the 2018 Hydropower Status Report at the Beijing Forum on Hydropower and Future Energy Systems– one of a series of events organised by IHA in the lead-up to the World Hydropower Congress in Paris in May 2019.

    Mr Taylor said: “This report serves to highlight the vital contribution of hydropower to meeting the world’s energy needs, without which we could not hope to achieve the ambitious carbon reduction targets that underpin the Paris Climate Agreement.

    “Hydropower offers storage services which support growth in other renewables such as wind and solar, as well as water management and protection from floods and drought. In many countries around the world, however, the alternative to hydropower for electricity generation is coal, which means higher emissions and dangerous levels of pollution.”

    In his article, the Chief Minister of Sarawak writes that development of hydropower – including the Murum project featured on the front cover of the 2018 Hydropower Status Report – has given Sarawak the lowest tariffs in Malaysia, and reduced carbon emissions by over 70 per cent.

    Australia’s Minister for the Environment and Energy writes about Australia’s commitment to new pumped hydropower projects, including the 2,000 MW Snowy 2.0 Scheme, “the largest energy storage project in the southern hemisphere”.

    Ethiopia’s Minister of Water, Irrigation and Electricity, in his article, cites the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which will be the largest hydropower project in Africa when built, with an expected installed capacity of 6,450 MW.

    Scotland’s Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy states that his government hopes to “reduce risks and remove barriers to investment” for new pumped hydropower projects, in order to enhance the flexibility and resilience of Scotland’s electricity network.

    Download the 2018 report here: www.hydropower.org/status2018

    Download infographics from the 2018 report here: www.hydropower.org/keyfacts2018


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    Intergovernmental meeting briefed on Paris 2019 World Hydropower Congress

    14 June 2018

    Plans for the 2019 World Hydropower Congress have been presented at an intergovernmental meeting of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) at its headquarters in Paris.

    Governments heard that the international gathering of hydropower leaders and decision-makers in May 2019 will focus on international collaboration, capacity building and innovation in the hydropower sector.

    Organised by the International Hydropower Association (IHA) in partnership with UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme (IHP), the congress will be attended by representatives from government, finance, investment, research, business and civil society from up to 100 countries.

    “The 2019 World Hydropower Congress will mark 25 years of collaboration between IHA and UNESCO on water and energy synergies. More than 50 partner organisations will join forces to steer the future role of hydropower during this strategic event,” said Richard Taylor, Chief Executive of IHA.

    Mr Taylor was addressing the International Hydrological Programme’s governing body, the Intergovernmental Council, at its 23rd session, taking place from 13 to 15 June 2018.

    With the theme of ‘The Power of Water in a Sustainable, Interconnected World’, the Paris World Hydropower Congress will be by hosted by UNESCO between 14 and 16 May 2019. A particular focus will be given to hydropower’s role in delivering on the Paris Climate Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.

    Blanca Jimenez-Cisneros, Director of the Division of Water Sciences and Secretary of the International Hydrological Programme, said: “At UNESCO we recognise that the water world is strongly interconnected with that of energy. We look forward to important outcomes from the World Hydropower Congress in 2019, where we will analyse how the water-energy nexus is a fundamental part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

    The last Congress was hosted by the UN Economic Commission for Africa and the African Union Commission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 2017.

    The 2019 programme will cover hydropower’s role in sustainable, clean energy systems, responsible freshwater management and climate change solutions. The event will be preceded by a series of high-level meetings on the water-energy nexus, as well as specialist workshops.

    Further details on the Paris 2019 World Hydropower Congress, including information on participation and partnerships the can be obtained from the IHA website: www.hydropower.org/congress.


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    Water infrastructure essential in tackling freshwater challenge

    18 June 2018

    The International Hydropower Association addressed the challenges of managing freshwater and the opportunities provided by hydropower at an Institute of Mechanical Engineers seminar in London.

    Participants at the event heard how worldwide hydropower installed capacity had reached 1,267 GW in 2017 – an increase of over 20 GW from 2016.

    “Hydropower plays a role in more than 150 countries; it’s a widely distributed technology and industry,” said IHA’s Chief Executive Richard Taylor during his keynote speech. 

    “The management of freshwater is probably the biggest challenge faced by mankind this century," and we will need water infrastructure, especially as the developing world needs increased water services.

    “To be able to deliver on the increasing demand, with a finite resource, we will need infrastructure to store water. Hydropower can contribute to that infrastructure by providing services and revenues which can justify the investment.”

    Mr Taylor also explained how IHA’s work programmes can help to fill sector knowledge gaps and discussed the reporting benefits of the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol, an internationally recognised tool used to assess the performance of projects at various stages in their life cycles. 

    The Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) seminar was entitled ‘Hydropower Engineering: Technologies, Projects and Future Developments’.

    IHA was a supporting partner at the 14 June event, which featured presentations on key hydropower projects and recent sector developments, as well as a panel discussion on hydropower potential in the UK.

    IHA members Andritz Hydro and Voith Hydro were represented among the day’s speakers, where asset management and pumped storage hydropower proved common themes of discussion.

    Lars Meier, Head of Proposal Management at Voith Hydro, shared technical details on the upcoming modernisation of the Ffestiniog Power Station in North Wales, which was the UK’s first major pumped storage facility.

    Ffestiniog, having been commissioned in 1963, is considered an “ageing plant” and modernisation work is due to start in January 2019.

    Sean Kelly, project manager at SSE Generation Development, discussed the importance of pumped storage for a grid which is “changing fundamentally since it was set up in the early twentieth century.”

    Mr Kelly said: “Pumped storage is an essential tool for system operators to balance the grid. We need to find a way to ensure that all the benefits pumped storage brings to the grid are recognised.” A decrease in pumped storage investment would mean finding alternative solutions, leading to “higher costs to the consumer, slower decarbonisation and probably less energy security.”

    Other topics of discussion included tidal power, hydropower technology and the future of hydropower.

    For more information on hydropower’s current challenges and opportunities worldwide, download the 2018 Hydropower Status Report.

    To find out more about the IMechE event, visit its webpage.


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    New tools launched for assessing hydropower good practice

    11 July 2018

    A multi-stakeholder coalition of civil society, industry, governments and financial institutions today launched an expanded suite of tools for assessing hydropower projects against sustainability performance criteria.

    The Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol, the world’s leading scoring framework for evaluating hydropower projects, has been updated to examine hydropower’s carbon footprint and resilience to climate change. In addition, a new tool will enable project proponents and investors to identify and address gaps against international good practice.

    The new suite of tools was developed over 18 months by the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Council, which is constituted by organisations such as the World Bank, The Nature Conservancy, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, WWF, the Inter-American Development Corporation, hydropower companies and governments.
     

    “Today marks the most significant expansion in the tools available to assess hydropower performance in almost a decade, following extensive consultation within and beyond the hydropower sector,” commented Mr Roger Gill, Chair of the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol’s governance committee.

    “This is good news for both project proponents and concerned stakeholders who want to measure projects against international practice. Developers and investors now have a targeted, cost effective way of assessing sustainability, while governments and communities can be confident that evaluations are based on robust, objective criteria,” he added.

    The new suite of tools comprises:

    An expanded sustainability protocol
     

    An expansion of the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol, first launched in 2010, to cover best and good practice in climate mitigation and resilience. A project that scores well under the new criteria will have a low carbon footprint and be resilient to the impacts of climate change.

     

     

    A targeted gap analysis tool
     

    A new Hydropower Sustainability Environmental, Social and Governance Gap Analysis Tool. Modelled on the Protocol’s evaluation framework, the ESG Tool offers a targeted assessment across 12 core sections, including biodiversity, downstream flows, project affected communities, cultural heritage, working conditions, and infrastructure safety, as well as climate change.

     

    The International Hydropower Association (IHA) supports the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Council as the Protocol’s management body, overseeing the training and accreditation of independent assessors. Assessments can be made at all stages of a hydropower project’s lifetime, from preparation, to development and operation.

    Richard Taylor, Chief Executive of IHA, commented: 

    “With this announcement, the hydropower sector now has two ways to demonstrate the sustainability credentials of a project. The ESG Tool will allow companies to identify good practice and address gaps through a management plan, providing vital reassurance to investors and other stakeholders. For companies that require a more comprehensive assessment, the Protocol remains the first choice for benchmarking a project and showcasing how it performs against international good practice and proven best practice.”

    Doug Smith, an accredited assessor who helped to develop the expanded suite of tools, said: 

    “The Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol’s new climate change topic will underline its status as the leading tool for hydropower assessment, reflecting newly built consensus in both greenhouse-gas emissions and climate resilience. The ESG Tool’s impact on the sector could also be profound, as the assessments will be systematic and rapid, without compromising rigour, and will include an action plan to close any gaps against good practice.”

    Dr James Dalton, Director of the Global Water Programme at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), commented: 

    “Developing tools and guidelines to help guide society with the resource management choices we face is critical to our future economic, social and environmental development. The hydropower industry has learned from the last eight years of Protocol experience. Building this experience into the Protocol and the new ESG tool is critical to help industry and investors learn, gain confidence in the tools, and expand the use of the Protocol.”

    Luiz Gabriel Todt de Azevedo, Chief of the Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance Division of IDB Invest, part of the Inter-American Development Corporation, commented that the new ESG Tool aligns with the Protocol’s goal of promoting sustainable hydropower. 

    “The new ESG Tool responds to industry demands. It is an agile and low-cost alternative to be employed by developers and operators in the first level assessment of their projects,” he said.

    The tool was developed by the International Hydropower Association (IHA) under the mandate of the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Council and with the support of the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

    Further information:

    The Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol was developed in response to the World Commission on Dams, which showed the need for the hydropower sector to have a global tool for reporting sustainability.

    The Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Council, which governs the Protocol, includes environmental NGOs and IGOs (The Nature Conservancy, WWF, IUCN), social NGOs (Transparency International, Women for Water Partnership), development banks (World Bank Group, Inter-American Development Corporation), governments (Norway, Switzerland), and hydropower sector owners and contractors.

    The new ESG Tool focuses on 12 sections: Environmental and social impact assessment and management; Labour and working conditions; Downstream flows, sedimentation and water quality; Project-affected communities and livelihoods; Resettlement; Indigenous peoples; Biodiversity and invasive species; Cultural heritage; Infrastructure safety; Climate change mitigation and resilience; Communications and consultation; and Governance and procurement.

    To download the suite of tools and find out more information, please visit: hydropower.org/sustainability


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    With Sarawak being unique and blessed with an abundance of natural resources, it is only logical to explore and harness renewables from these resources, writes Chief Minister Yab Datuk Patinggi Dr Abang Haji Abdul Rahman Zohari Bin Tun Datuk Abang Haji Openg.

    Energy is what drives development and underpins economic growth. Global energy demand is forecasted to grow by 58 per cent between now and 2040 and we hear of countries racing to secure energy. Sarawak is no different.

    We are aware that we need to detach from being reliant on non-renewable resources if Sarawak is to achieve energy security for sustainable economic growth.

    The International Energy Agency (IEA) reports that by 2022, global renewables electricity generation is expected to grow by over one-third to over 8,000 terawatt hours, equal to the total power consumption of China, India and Germany combined. As a result, the share of renewables in power generation will reach 30 per cent in 2022, up from 24 per cent in 2016.

    The report also states that in the next five years, growth in renewable generation will be twice as large as that of gas and coal combined. While coal remains the largest source of electricity generation in 2022, renewables halve their gap with coal, down to 17 per cent in 2022.

    Despite slower capacity growth, hydropower will remain the largest source of renewable electricity generation in IEA’s forecast, followed by wind, solar PV and bioenergy.

    With Sarawak being unique and blessed with an abundance of natural resources, it is only logical to explore and harness renewables from these resources to further boost our generation figures and secure a stable supply of energy in the state.

    Our many rivers, plentiful rainfall and mountainous terrain have enabled Sarawak to embark and focus on hydropower development which at present represents 75 per cent of the state’s generation mix. Fossil fuel, coal and alternative renewables like solar and mini-hydro make up the rest of the mix.

    Hydropower, being a sustainable source has since reaped benefits as it allowed the State Government to develop the state’s development strategy - the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy, or SCORE, attracting energy intensive industries and investors to our shores by offering security of supply at a globally competitive price.

    With SCORE, the state’s energy demand took a quantum leap as it triggered a number of downstream businesses and opening up the state’s rural areas giving rural towns a boom effect. In addition, hydropower also allowed the State government to lower electricity tariffs for domestic, commercial and industrial consumers making Sarawak the state with the lowest tariffs in Malaysia and one of the lowest in the region, and reducing carbon emission from supply generation by 72 per cent.

    Other than being a natural resource, hydropower development makes for good business sense as hydropower projects do have a high upfront outlay during the construction phase, but they have very low running costs and can operate for many decades – up to a hundred years in certain cases, making it a viable option that works for Sarawak.

    Sarawak now has three hydroelectric power plants under its belt – Batang Ai, Murum and the recently acquired Bakun with another, Baleh, currently under construction and expected to be completed by 2026.

    As we continue to be on track in our efforts in energy security which will also establish our reputation as the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Powerhouse, Sarawak continues to explore on developing new energy supply options through research and adopting new technologies. Advances in technology promote energy efficiency and has opened up many new energy supply options making this sector more competitive.


    This piece was originally featured in the 2018 Hydropower Status Report.


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    Hydropower based development in Ethiopia provides a gateway to economic transformation through industrialisation, urbanisation and through the provision of access to modern energy to rural areas, writes Hon Seleshi Bekele, Minister of Water, Irrigation and Electricity.

    Renewable energy provides one of the most effective strategies to simultaneously promote clean development, sustainable access and energy security with its irreplaceable role in climate change mitigation at all levels.

    Today, more than two-thirds of the world’s renewable electricity comes from hydropower dams. Investment in hydropower generation very often has multiple water resources development benefits. It has a benefit to provide regulation and storage structure, enhance capacity to mitigate the adverse impact of climate change resulting in pronounced flood and drought, play crucial roles in stabilising the energy mix, easily take peak loads, and enable access to relatively cheap electricity in many countries of Africa.

    Hydropower generation can serve as a catalyst and entry point for regional collaboration, regional integration and the formation of broader regional markets and industrialisation in trans-boundary rivers. It also provides a platform for inter-riparian win-win cooperation to engage in terms of energy and power trade, in the coordination and regulation of water infrastructure, and in the maintenance and rehabilitation of ecosystems.

    In the past two decades, electric power development policies and activities have played a pivotal role in achieving economic growth and prosperity in Ethiopia with the ultimate goal of facilitating regional economic cooperation and integration through the additional mission of interconnecting neighbouring countries with electricity.

    Hydropower is also sensitive to climate change because of its dependence on river runoff, a resource which is dependent on a climate-driven hydrological cycle. Run-off depends on meteorological parameters such as precipitation and temperature. Studies using global circulation show that, in the future, some regions of the world will experience increased runoff while others will have reduced runoff as a result of global warming.

    Ethiopia, like many other countries, is impacted by the effects of climate change. The government has initiated the Climate-Resilient Green Economy (CRGE) strategy to protect the country from the effects of climate change and to build a green economy. The Green Economy Strategy identified and prioritised more than 60 initiatives to achieve development goals while limiting greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 to the levels of 2010 base (150 MtCO2e) with 64 per cent equivalent of CO2 reduction. The key to attaining green and low-carbon development is clean energy development, where hydropower plays the major role. Developing hydropower for domestic consumption and exporting the excess amount to neighbouring countries would mean to take the leading role to meet the ambition of the Paris Climate Agreement of reducing MtCO2e in 2030 in the region.

    The role that energy, or Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7, plays is immense in the overall future sustainability of our planet. Particularly, hydropower plays the lion share, especially in developing countries due to its proven technical and technological ease and relatively low cost per MW investment. It also encompasses other services such freshwater management, climate mitigation, climate adaptation services, firm energy, energy storage and other ancillary services which could contribute to other SDGs including water (SDG 6), resilient infrastructure (SDG 9), and climate change (SDG 13).

    Energy access is increasingly seen as a vital catalyst to wider social and economic development, enabling education, health and sustainable agriculture as well as creating jobs. By 2025 electricity access is expected to reach 100 per cent in both rural and urban areas of Ethiopia. To attain this, electrification enables the provision of affordable electricity to poor households who are forced to use fuel-wood to meet their energy needs, over 85 per cent of which is used for cooking and heating.

    Because of this, thousands of square kilometres of deforestation takes place annually for fuel wood collection and charcoal burning, which also triggers massive land degradation and soil erosion.

    Ethiopia’s hydropower potential is estimated at up to 45,000 MW and is the second highest in Africa. Hydropower based development provides a gateway to economic transformation through industrialisation, urbanisation as well as through the provision of access to modern energy to rural areas. The current electricity installed capacity of 4,284 MW is 97 per cent renewable of which effective hydropower installed capacity is 3,810 MW. Furthermore, 8,864 MW of hydropower development is under construction.

    Development of hydropower started in the early 1930s with the first Aba Samuel dam commissioned in 1932 with an installed capacity of 6.6 MW. After that, the country has not made significant progress in hydropower development up until the last decade when the construction of dams saw a significant boom.

    Since 2009, the country has commissioned five hydro dams with a total capacity of 3,147 MW. The latest commissioned is the Gibe III Dam with an installed capacity of 1,870 MW with the largest roller compacted concrete dam technology in the world. Among the dams under construction, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), with an expected installed capacity of 6,450 MW on completion, will be the largest hydropower dam station in Africa. It is also important to note that Ethiopia has about 17 identified sites of hydropower potential sites ranging from 60 MW to 2,000 MW in the pipeline and expected to be largely developed by the private sector as independent power producers.

    Renewable energy mixes from wind, solar and geothermal sources are expected to be increased significantly in the coming future in Ethiopia. Ethiopian policy and strategy emphasises the diversity of the energy mix by developing wind, solar and geothermal, etc, to complement hydropower. On the other hand, it is equally important to guard against the negative impacts of hydropower development and to pay close attention to climate resilience, social inclusion and environmental services.


    This piece was originally featured in the 2018 Hydropower Status Report.


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    United Nations forum: achieving sustainability goals through integration

    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.


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