Global Headlines

Editor’s Note

This department features the biggest news item from each world region. Up-to-the-minute news on the global hydro market is available on the World Regions page at


Hydro Project Activity:

LHWP Phase II work moving forward

The Lesotho Highlands Development Authority is moving forward with work on Phase II of its Lesotho Highlands Water Project, which includes construction of the 1,200-MW Kobong pumped storage scheme.

LHWP is a bi-national project between the governments of Lesotho and the Republic of South Africa, intended to provide water to the Guateng region of South Africa and to generate hydroelectricity for Lesotho.

Phase II comprises two main components. The hydropower component is the Kobong pumped storage scheme, using the existing Katse Reservoir as the lower reservoir and construction a new upper reservoir in the Kobong valley. This will involve construction of the 101-m-high Kobong Dam and a 6.3-km-long power tunnel.

The second component is a water transfer system that includes the 165-m-high Polihali Dam and a 38-km-long water conveyance tunnel.

Work on Phase II began in October 2013. It is expected to be substantially complete by the end of 2024.

Phase I construction, completed in 2003 and inaugurated in 2004, consisted of building the Katse and Mohale dams and the 72-MW Muela hydroelectric power station.


Bombing at hydro plant in The Philippines

Last month, unidentified armed men bombed the 14-MW Sabangan hydropower plant located in Sabangan, Mountain Province, The Philippines. There were no reported injuries, however the blast damaged 90% of equipment in the plant’s control room, which knocked the plant off line.

Philippines-based Aboitiz Power owns the project, which it operates through its subsidiary, Hedcor Power. Hedcor did not immediately release a timeline for when the plant will resume power generation.

The US$39 million run-of-river plant was built on the Chico River and began operating in 2015 annually generating 55 million kWh.

North America

Hydro Project Activity:

Muskrat Falls investigation to launch

In October, Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball said the government will soon launch an official investigation determining why the cost of the Nalcor Energy-owned 824-MW Muskrat Falls project continues to rise.

The Muskrat Falls project has been controversial throughout its development, but a 2013 study projected its cost to be about US$1.5 billion less than a combination of wind and natural gas over the 35-year lifespan of anticipated commercial contracts. The plant was also expected to save the province nearly $410 million over the same period compared to importing power from Quebec.

At the time of that report’s release, Muskrat Falls was expected to cost about $7.4 billion and be producing power by the end of this year. But, the N.L. government said it will cost at least $12.5 billion, with generation at the earliest not expected until 2020.

The Canadian government provided an additional $2.32 billion in loan guarantees for its construction in November 2016, saying Muskrat Falls is part of the country’s long-term infrastructure plan.


IEA says 2016 record for renewables

In its newly released Renewables 2017 report, the International Energy Agency indicates renewables accounted for almost two-thirds of net new electricity generating capacity around the world, a record for 2016.

Almost 165 GW of renewable capacity came online in 2016. Specific to hydropower, the report says, “Despite slower capacity growth [than solar PV], hydropower will remain the largest source of renewable electricity generation in our forecast, followed by wind, solar PV and bioenergy.”

New solar PV capacity around the world grew by 50%, IEA says, reaching more than 74 GW. Solar PV additions surpassed the net growth in coal, according to the report, rising “faster than any other fuel.”

IEA says three countries will account for two thirds of global renewable expansion to 2022: China, the United States and India.

IEA headquarters are based in Paris, France, and membership includes 28 countries, with more than 20 in Europe.

Latin America

ANEEL bumps power tariffs in Brazilian

Low levels in the reservoirs used to power Brazil’s hydropower plants created higher rates for consumers in October, according to federal regulator Agencia Nacional de Energia Eletrica.

The price increase came via ANEEL’s decision to raise tariffs from what it calls the “red flag level” from No. 1 to 2, equating to a rate increase over September of about 17%.

Brazil’s government said in September it planned to increase the amount of power it purchases from southern neighbors Uruguay and Argentina to help stem potential outages.

“Hydroelectric reservoirs have reached worrying levels and though there is no risk of power shortages, it is necessary to reinforce the actions related to the conscious use of energy and to avoid waste,” ANEEL said.

About two-thirds of Brazil’s cumulative installed capacity is from hydroelectric sources.

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