Large hydro project development increasing, delegates tell World Energy Congress

Large hydropower projects are experiencing a global renaissance as developers in Central and Latin America, Russia and Canada are moving to exploit untapped hydroelectric power potential, World Energy Congress delegates were told earlier this week.

Speaking at the 22nd triennial event being held in Daegu, South Korea, hydropower advocates told attendees only a third of the world’s has been developed with at least 75% of that found in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

“Wherever it is, it should be built,” SCMS Global founder and president Oskar Sigvaldason said.

Large hydro has fought everything from government policy to public perception in recent decades, Sigvaldason said — often putting it “in the penalty box” — though changing attitudes are beginning to turn the tide in its favor.

According to International Hydropower Association executive director Richard Taylor, negotiations with environmental activists, banks and other stakeholders since 2000 are responsible in large part to the surge, as are tools like IHA’s Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol.

Even though perceptions of large hydropower are changing, however, Sarawak Energy CEO Torstein Dale Sjotveit said policies and regulations are still often too stringent in some regions hydroelectricity could benefit most.

“The developing world should not be expected to meet standards which we have never met elsewhere,” Sjotveit said.

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