The Economic Commission for Africa is teaming-up with the International Hydropower Association (IHA) to develop a tool that can quantify the comprehensive benefits of hydropower schemes on the continent, said Soteri Gatera, Chief of Infrastructure and Industrialization in ECA’s Regional Integration and Trade Division.
Addressing a session on benefits of hydropower at the on-going World Hydropower Congress in Addis Ababa, Soteri said the tool will target investors and policymakers to ensure that the full value of hydropower projects is realized and the risk-reward profile for developers and investors is improved.
According to a press release of ECA, there is no comprehensive methodology, accepted within the hydropower sector, to quantify the non-power related and macroeconomic benefits of hydropower projects. Forecasting the benefits of various energy and infrastructure options will help ensure that opportunities are not missed, Soteri said.
“Once developed, this template or methodology will be will be rolled out within the hydropower sector, and testing it against planned and completed projects in various jurisdictions,” he told delegates to the congress, adding that hydropower was now the energy of choice of Africa with leaders committing at continental level to prioritize hydropower development as a source of renewable energy.
He stated that the recent African Union Specialized Technical Committee (STC) on Transport, Transcontinental and Interregional Infrastructure, Energy and Tourism, held in Lomé, Togo, earlier this month, reaffirmed, in its declaration, the important role of hydro as a source of renewable energy in Africa.
“While acknowledging the role of other energy sources, the meeting affirmed that hydropower is the only renewable energy that has the potential to expand access to electricity to large populations, as well as to rural households,” he noted.
According to him, single and multipurpose hydropower facilities can make substantial contributions at local and regional levels.
In addition to export revenues, they provide other local macro-economic benefits relating to employment, education and recreation and in the process opening up new possibilities for trade, tourism and transport.
The session was used to discuss the methodology that can be used to quantify the benefits of completed and planned hydro projects. Hydropower benefits are often under-reported and companies and project developers struggle to collect, quantify and share information on the benefits of their projects.
“In many policy discourses, the non-power related benefits are often ignored. Yet, these are the benefits that make hydropower more competitive than other type of energy infrastructure, particularly in transforming the economies of many African countries,” Soteri stressed.
Meanwhile, the IHA yesterday launched the G-res, new tool for measuring carbon footprint of reservoirs, it was learned.
The G-res enables decision-makers and stakeholders to better estimate the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the introduction of a reservoir into a landscape.
Launched by IHA in collaboration with the UNESCO Chair for Global Environmental Change, this publicly-available, web-based tool can be used to measure net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on existing or planned reservoirs.