Hydro association adopts sustainability protocol

The International Hydropower Association (IHA) unveiled the IHA Sustainability Assessment Protocol during the group’s international business summit Aug. 1.

The protocol, which was approved by the IHA board the previous day, is designed to promote greater consideration of environmental, social, and economic sustainability in the assessment of new energy supply options, new hydro projects, and the operation of existing hydro projects.

IHA’s Andrew Scanlon of Hydro Tasmania explained the new protocol to 75 attendees at the daylong IHA Business Summit on Sustainable Hydropower. The summit was a satellite event to HydroVision 2006, an international hydroelectric industry conference, July 31-Aug. 4 at the Oregon Convention Center.

The Sustainability Assessment Protocol was developed to help IHA members assess the performance of their hydropower projects against criteria the association previously established in the IHA Sustainability Guidelines.

Protocol allows self-scoring of project effects

The protocol is in three sections, new energy projects, new hydro projects, and operating hydropower facilities. It gives general guidance on sustainability issues that should be considered when assessing energy options. Users can score their projects against sustainability aspects covering economic, social, and environmental issues. Assessments look at both process and performance, with projects scoring from 0 to 5.

Final trials of the protocols were conducted on Eskom’s 360-MW Gariep and 240-MW Van der Kloof power stations in South Africa and Zesco’s 120-MW Itezhi-Tezhi and 750-MW Kafue Gorge Lower projects in Zambia.

The Sustainability Assessment Protocol can be obtained from IHA’s Internet site, www.hydropower.org.

Sustainable hydro website provides learning tool

Scanlon also introduced IHA’s new Sustainable Hydropower Website, described as a learning forum to assist with sustainable development and ongoing operation of hydro projects.

The website, www.sustainablehydropower.org, was developed over two years for the IHA Sustainability Committee by Hydro Tasmania, an Australian hydropower utility, with assistance from the International Energy Agency’s Hydropower Implementing Agreement.

The site provides basic information on aspects of sustainability relative to hydropower. It identifies management and mitigation approaches for each aspect and summarizes hydropower projects that have put the approaches into practice.

IHA summit highlights industry focus on best practices

The daylong IHA Business Summit reviewed the gradual acceptance by international forums of hydropower as a necessary and desirable renewable power and water source, despite provisions of the 2001 World Commission on Dams report that hindered large dam development.

Discussion also focused on steps being taken by the hydro industry to make projects more environmentally and socially acceptable. Members also discussed aspects of corporate social responsibility and the benefits of being a �good corporate citizen.�

Panelists also discussed ways to manage perceived threats to hydropower development, such as high expectations of local communities, an aging workforce, resettlement, difficulty in securing investment, and political uncertainties.

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