The Climate Report 2017/18 - Page 5

Ultra-high voltage transmission is
connecting hydropower to markets
The concept of ‘global energy
interconnection’ has emerged as one the
latest trends towards developing major
interconnections to enable the massive
growth in renewable energy
technologies to meet global energy
demand. Discussions are under way
among major energy companies in China,
Japan, Russia and South Korea on the
creation of an ‘Asian Super Grid’, in which
an ultra-high voltage grid would
interconnect the region to transmit
electricity generated from an abundance
of clean, renewable sources like hydro.
In other parts of the world, such as in
Canada, the predominantly hydro-based
systems are increasing their already
strong interconnections with the
neighbouring grids of the US mid-west.
Utilities like Manitoba Hydro can utilise
their hydropower reservoirs to balance
the output of major windfarm
developments to the south, while
enabling bilateral trade opportunities for
export and providing import capability
for reliability in low water conditions.
New priorities are emerging on smart
modernisation and digitisation of assets
Asset management is becoming
increasingly challenging across the sector
as a growing number of hydro assets are
reaching the end of their expected life. By
2050, it is estimated that roughly half of
the entire fleet of existing hydropower
equipment will require modernisation.
The digitisation of hydropower plants,
control systems and surrounding
networks is an emerging industry trend
that promises to optimise asset
management and performance. For
example, the digitisation of hydropower
systems is increasingly being
implemented to allow hydro to work
together with other renewable resources
to provide increased flexibility and
enhanced control for ancillary services
(frequency control, balancing services,
etc). Other digital innovations include
cybersecurity, plant and fleet optimisation,
outage management, condition
monitoring equipment and energy
forecasting. Together, these innovations
are providing hydropower asset owners
with actionable insights from data to
increase the value of hydropower assets.
Reporting mechanisms for hydro’s
carbon footprint are advancing
An international research initiative has
developed a framework for calculating the
net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of
freshwater reservoirs. To accurately account
for hydropower’s carbon footprint,
pre-impoundment emissions specific to
each reservoir will now be considered, as
well as the multiple services provided by the
reservoir. As investors and lenders are
currently seeking to further refine guidelines
on eligibility criteria for hydropower, there is
a significant risk that it may be excluded
from some mechanisms due to the
perceived GHG emissions from reservoirs.
The new conceptual approach has led to
the development of the G-res tool which
will provide estimates of net GHG emissions
from planned and existing reservoirs,
contributing a much more consistent
estimate of hydropower’s GHG footprint,
while establishing hydropower projects on
a level playing field with other renewable
energy resources for access to premium
markets and green investments.
Tools for reporting on sustainability
performance are diversifying
The Hydropower Sustainability
Assessment Protocol has become broadly
recognised as the primary tool for
evaluating sustainability performance,
having been implemented worldwide.
The range in the tool’s application has
grown, from full assessments through to
guided internal assessments that are
playing a strong role in building internal
capacity. New initiatives such as green
and climate bonds are increasingly
recognising the protocol.
For example, the Barclays MSCI Green
Bond Index lists a published protocol
assessment meeting ‘basic good practice’
in its eligibility criteria, while the Climate
Bonds Initiative is working with multiple
stakeholders to develop its own eligibility
criteria. This evolution in protocol use has
indicated the need to develop
complementary derivatives to enable
practical application while protecting the
strong quality control elements of the
tool. Two priorities are an environmental
and social derivative, and international
industry good practice guidelines.
Financing institutions are placing
greater emphasis on climate resilience
Financing institutions are seeking to
address climate-related risk by ensuring
projects are planned and operated to be
resilient to climate change. Resilience and
adaptation measures must be
communicated clearly and simply to
investors. The World Bank has launched a
study to develop guidelines for designing
resilient projects, where possible enabling
them to take advantage of opportunities
arising from climate change. These would
ensure projects are safe and reliable, and
can provide adaptation services to
incentivise policy and investment. The
World Bank recently convened sector
experts to outline a vision for these
guidelines, where it was agreed they
should cover practical risk assessment and
mitigation. and be recognised by investors
and multilateral organisations. One of the
Climate Bonds Initiative’s eligibility criteria
for financing hydro projects now requires
measurable evidence of climate resilience.
Guidelines are set to become increasingly
important in the sector.
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devevelopment. Find out more at
Climate Report 2017-18 IHA.indd 3
22/03/2017 17:13:57


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