Uganda Leads Africa In Promoting Post-Pandemic Hydropower Projects

Uganda is representing Africa in advancing the role of hydropower in enabling wide-scale transition to renewables post-Covid-19.

Hydro Power Association of Uganda is the only African agency to team up with global organisations towards drafting guiding principles for hydroelectric infrastructure policy in the Covid-19 recovery.

The process is overseen by London-based International Hydropower Association (IHA), the umbrella body bringing together 16 organisations in the drive. Besides being a cheap renewable source, hydropower stations are very flexible in adjusting power output, making them suitable for spinning reserve to smooth out fluctuations in wind and solar sources.

“As the single largest source of renewable electricity with unique flexibility services to support the integration of variable renewable energy, hydropower will be vital to the future energy system. All countries that have achieved 100 percent renewable electricity have relied heavily on hydropower,” IHA said in a statement on behalf of the organisations.

“Furthermore, hydropower delivers vital means of managing freshwater, providing supplies for agriculture, homes and businesses, and mitigating the impacts of extreme weather events such as floods and drought.”

According to International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), installed hydropower capacity will need to increase by 850 GW by 2050 in order to make its contribution to limit the rise in global temperature to well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. That is a 60 percent increase in the next 30 years, equivalent to the entire power capacity of the European Union and would help generate some 600,000 skilled jobs over the coming decade. This would represent an estimated $1.7 trillion of required investments.
The hydropower and generator associations set out the following principles for green and resilient infrastructure stimulus packages as they call on decision-makers to plan and build more sustainable hydropower projects:

Call to action:

  • Ensure the recovery facilitates the development of sustainable hydropower projects as an essential part of the energy transition and wider development strategy to help kick-start our global economy. This should include modernisation and rehabilitation projects.
  • Focus on sustainable hydropower development to ensure that economically viable and shovel-ready projects can commence.
  • Where possible and within reason, fast-track planning approvals to ensure the development and modernisation of hydropower projects can commence as soon as possible to help stimulate the economy.
  • In regions where this applies, extend any construction deadlines for hydropower projects that have previously benefited from government programmes to secure the finance already committed.
  • Given the increasing need for long-duration energy storage such as pumped storage, work with regulators and system operators to develop appropriate compensation mechanisms that recognise and value all the attributes hydropower provides to the grid.
  • Not only maintain but increase the ambition of renewable energy and climate change targets which incorporate the role of sustainable hydropower development. This will instil much needed confidence in the sector.

The 16 organisations represent hydropower developers, operators, manufacturers, researchers and innovators including the world’s largest hydropower producers in China, the United States and Canada, among other countries. They include:

Worldwide – International Hydropower Association (IHA)

Canada – WaterPower Canada

China – China Society for Hydropower Engineering

Colombia – ACOLGEN

Indonesia – Indonesia Hydropower Association

Kyrgyzstan – Small Hydropower Plants Association of the Kyrgyz Republic

Mexico – Mexican Association of Hydroelectricity

Mongolia – Small Hydropower Association Mongolia

Norway – Energy Norway

Norway – International Centre for Hydropower (ICH)

Poland – Polish Hydropower Association / TEW

Poland – Polish Association for Small Hydropower Development

Russia – Association “Hydropower of Russia”

Uganda – Hydro Power Association of Uganda

United Kingdom – British Hydropower Association

USA – National Hydropower Association (NHA)

Read also: Namibia, Ghana, Kenya Lead Africa’s Green Energy Transition

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