IRENA secures Hydropower modernisation commitments

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Half of operational global hydropower capacity is over 30 years old.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has secured a commitment from over 100 global public and private sector participants from 50 countries to work together on the modernisation and refurbishment of the world’s hydropower capacity.

Hydropower is the largest source of renewable energy around the world, making up 43% of the total. Many of the plants, however, are aging and in need of investment as the use of the sector’s energy changes significantly.

Approximately half of all installed capacity is more than 30 years old and although hydropower has traditionally been a source of base load generation, it is increasingly also used as a peaking capacity and source for flexible generation and water management. It is also expected that global capacity must more than double by 2050 to keep global warming under the 1.5°C target.

Given long planning and construction times, the need to urgently add hydropower capacity brings challenges such as unlocking the necessary investments and ensuring financial viability. It also means ensuring the sustainability of projects, pursuing innovations in technology, markets and business models as well as achieving efficiency improvements and more integrated planning.

Innovations are underway, with projects like the development of a floating solar farm on the Vau i DejĂ«s hydropower plant reservoir in Albania but to close the existing gaps in global hydropower, IRENA’s Collaborative Framework on Hydropower has agreed to identify “champion” countries taking the lead on key hydropower-related topics.