COP27 urged to unlock the barriers to hydropower development


Hydropower as an enabler of other renewables and provider of firm electricity must be reflected in net zero strategies, the IHA urges.

Hydropower can meet increasing demand for renewable sources of electricity and global policymakers and financial decision-makers must support and incentivise sustainable hydropower, says the International Hydropower Association.

The IHA believes three clear actions are required, namely:

That hydropower’s role as an enabler of other renewables as well as a direct provider of firm electricity is reflected in policymakers’ net zero strategies;

That investments in hydropower are incentivised in financial mechanisms and streamlined licensing, and;

That sustainable practices are embedded in government regulation.

While time is needed to plan and agree new sustainable hydropower plants, much progress can already be made on off-river pumped storage, and better use of existing infrastructure through modernisation, hybridisation such as floating solar, and retrofitting non-powered dams.

With a delegation led by Erik Solheim, a board member of the International Hydropower Association (IHA) and former executive director of UNEP, IHA will be pushing for this message through two major announcements or initiatives at COP27:

Launch of the Planning for Climate Commission,  a joint initiative by IHA, the Green Hydrogen Organisation, the Global Wind Energy Council and the Global Solar Council will focus on speeding up planning and approvals for the massive deployment of renewables and green hydrogen needed to address climate change and energy security.

The Planning for Climate Commission will be launched on 15 November and seek to agree a set of recommendations to present to the UN General Assembly in September 2023. It will be supported by several governments and will include a diverse range of global leaders, champions and experts with outstanding experience in climate and renewable energy policymaking.

IHA ceo Eddie Rich, said: “IEA and IRENA say that we need todouble global hydropower capacity by 2050 to meet net zero. This cannot be achieved while projects are taking in excess of five years just to be approved. Through this Commission, we hope to find mechanisms that embed sustainability into all renewable infrastructure at the same time as streamlining the approval process.”

Launch of the Global Renewable Energy Alliance on 15 November will see IHA sign a memorandum of understanding with the Global Wind Energy Council, the Global Solar Council, the International Geothermal Association, the Long Duration Energy Storage Council and the Green Hydrogen Organisation to establish a new Global Renewable Energy Alliance. The Alliance will jointly support efforts to tackle climate change with a stronger and more aligned voice.

Eddie Rich said “Since COP21 in Paris, we have seen an enhanced and increased ambition to deploy renewable energy at scale. However, increased solar and wind energy will need to be backed up by more long duration energy storage, or face blackouts, brownouts or a return to fossil fuels.”

The IHA delegation will also use the events in which it is speaking to push for financial mechanisms to incentivise pumped storage and other hydropower; to make the case for sustainable hydropower’s role in climate resilience; and to promote interconnectivity.

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