World Bank releases O&M handbook for hydropower

The World Bank has released a new publication: Operation and Maintenance Strategies for Hydropower: Handbook for Practitioners and Decision Makers.

The World Bank says this handbook “seeks to raise awareness among utility managers, decision makers and other stakeholders of the importance and benefits of developing robust operation and maintenance strategies for existing and greenfield hydropower plants.”

Hydropower is the world’s largest source of renewable energy generation, with 1,300 GW of installed capacity, the World Bank says. About 52% of this capacity was installed before 1990, so these assets are prone to require major rehabilitation. Citing data from the International Renewable Energy Agency, the bank says hydro generated more than 4,200 TWh of electricity in 2018, accounting for more than 60% of global new energy generation. Additionally, the global weighted average cost of hydropower projects I 2018 was $0.047/kWh, making it the lowest-cost source of electricity in many markets.

When well-maintained, hydropower facilities can last for more than 100 years and operate for decades without major work. (The Hydro Hall of Fame awards presented at HYDROVISION International annually are a testament to the long-lasting legacy of hydroelectric power worldwide.) Hence it is essential to have robust O&M strategies in place, as plants that are allowed to deteriorate require constant attention and frequent major refurbishment.

The handbook provides guidance in preparing and implementing a long-term O&M strategy that includes objectives to be reached, activities and organizational decisions to reach these objectives and adequate resources.

The handbook, published in January, uses eight steps to propose a framework and processes to establish an O&M strategy adapted to local contexts:

  • Diagnosis
  • Definition of objectives
  • Key blocks of activities
  • Exploration of O&M contractual models
  • Human resources
  • Estimation of costs
  • Validation of strategy
  • Implementation of the strategy

Six case studies from Brazil, Pakistan, Nigeria, Liberia, Uganda and Uruguay/Argentina are included in a companion report entitled Operation and Maintenance Strategies for Hydropower: Six Case Studies. The World Bank says the handbook benefited from these lessons learned, which provide examples of O&M strategy implementation and share views on remaining challenges and future directions.

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