HYDRO 2014 Overview
World hydro potential and development opportunities, maximizing the benefits of current and future projects, and planning for the next generation of hydropower specialists, were among key topics of HYDRO 2014 – Building on Recent Development Progress, which took place from 13 to 15 October in Cernobbio, Italy.
The event, organized by Aqua-Media International, was attended by nearly 1400 participants, representing 82 countries, making it, as usual, the most international gathering of the year for the hydropower profession.
More than 30 per cent of those attending the Conference represented ministries, national or regional power authorities, or private developers. Others came from international consulting companies, financing institutions, specialist contractors, research establishments, universities and equipment suppliers.
The countries participating together represented more than 93 per cent of global hydro capacity in operation (986 GW), and about the same proportion of hydro under construction worldwide (159 GW). Presentations were given on current development plans and priorities in China, India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Nepal, Laos, Ethiopia, DRC, and many other active hydro-developing countries.
Some sessions were led by officers of ICOLD, the International Energy Agency and the European Small Hydropower Association; there was input to the discussions on project finance from the World Bank, IFC, KfW, the Nepal Investment Board, and financial specialists from the private sector within the hydro profession.
Specialists on technology, environmental and social issues, safety and maintenance of water infrastructure, hydrology and climate, risk management, and many other topics gave talks in a total of 33 sessions and workshops, the result of which was described by the Deputy Director of WAPDA as “an international buffet of knowledge”.
Alison Bartle, Director of Aqua-Media International, set the scene for HYDRO 2014 by reviewing the status of hydro development worldwide, drawing attention to recent progress, and looking particularly at parts of the world where recent and current schemes were making a significant impact on socio-economic development.
She then outlined some of the highlights of the conference, noting that more emphasis was being placed on multipurpose projects, on safety and risk, and on succession planning; efforts had been made to increase the number of students attending.
The local co-host of HYDRO 2014 was ENEL, the major power company of Italy.
Sergio Grigatti, Projects and Operations Support Manager at ENEL, welcomed delegates to his country, and gave an overview of the Italian hydropower business, as well as ENEL’s activities worldwide. ENEL operates 14 000 MW of hydro in Italy, a further 9000 MW in Latin America, and 5000 MW on the Iberian peninsula. Many Italian reservoirs originally built for hydropower, now serve for a number of additional purposes, Grigatti said, including irrigation, water supply and flood control; another important function was fire fighting. Hydro could also be used for blackstarts in the event of power failures.
Giovanni Ruggeri, President of the Italian National Committee on Large Dams, and also working at ENEL, presented more details of Italy’s dams. There were 540 large dams in the country, he said. Hydro was the principal purpose of the large dams, and formed the ‘backbone’ of national renewable energy production, accounting for 20 per cent of the country’s total power production. Hydro made a valuable contribution in terms of quantity, but also quality of supply, he remarked.
ICOLD President Adama Nombre gave a welcome address, in which he referred to recent progress and the increasing acceptance of dams and hydro plants by all stakeholders. He outlined some of the main technical achievements of the past few years, and noted that there had also been improvements to governance and consultation processes. Nombre noted, however, that many challenges remained, and in particular there was a global need for increased water storage, as an important factor for climate change resilience,
J.M. Devernay, former World Bank Chief Hydropower Specialist, presented some reflections about where hydropower currently stands, and the possible roadmap for the future. He drew attention to the challenges faced by some of the poorest countries in securing the necessary finance for projects were were often critical for their economic and social development. However, he felt that more and more south-south cooperation between emerging and developing countries represented a great hope for regions such as Africa.
Devernay underlined the need to keep the costs of hydro competitive, while maximizing the benefits. He also called for improved sustainability, with more coherent planning at basin level, and he stressed the importance of regional collaboration, noting that 60 per cent of the world’s surface waters flow in transboundary rivers.
Devernay commented: “Today there is little doubt that hydropower has a firm position as a prime contributor to the world’s energy security, and water security when it is associated with a reservoir”. He added: “Hydro is now considered by multilaterial organizations such as the World Bank as a key tool for them to achieve their goal of eradicating poverty and boosting shared prosperity”.
Meike van Ginneken, Water Sector Leader for Africa at the World Bank, observed in her keynote address that the political discourse around hydropower had changed a lot over the past decade: middle-income countries were not only increasing funding, but also becoming more assertive in advocating water storage. She spoke of the World Bank’s re-engagement in hydropower, and gave some examples of projects recently supported. She identified asset management as a major current challenge for the less developed countries, stressing the importance of allocating responsibility for the operation and maintenance of new projects.
Van Ginneken then addressed the issue of how future major hydro schemes would be financed, as public funding from institutions such as the World Bank would clearly not suffice. She reviewed various options, including the emerging trend for the development of non-conventional financiers, such as the BRIC countries. She also mentioned an improvement in the investment climate in the low and middle income countries. As economic growth had slowed in Europe and North America, she said, investors were eagerly looking at other regions in which to invest.
Summaries of the 33 sessions, panels and workshops, including their key outcomes, have been prepared by the chairmen, and these will form part of a full report of the conference, to be published in Issue 6 of Hydropower & Dams.
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