A course to introduce the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol is currently being held in Iceland. The course also offers training for parties who are interested in becoming assessors in implementation of the assessment Protocol. This is the second course to be held anywhere in the world on the subject. The aim is to encourage the nations of the world to commit themselves to using the sustainability assessment Protocol and thus support sustainability worldwide. The course is directed by international experts, including Dr. Helen Locher, Project leader for the assessment Protocol, and will be attended by employees of Landsvirkjun, Representatives of The Icelandic National Planning Agency, The Environment Agency of Iceland, The Association of Local Authorities in Iceland, the University of Iceland, Landvernd (Icelandic Environment Association) and engineering companies.
Broad participation of nations and associations in creating the assessment Protocol
Hydropower is the largest renewable source of energy in the world for the production of electricity. Vast hydropower resources remain unharnessed in the world and can play a very significant role in reducing the use of energy sources that pollute, such as coal and oil, for the production of electricity, and the hydropower resources can also assure access to electricity for the inhabitants of the developing countries. It is important that power projects be designed in such a manner that the harnessing of the resources will be sustainable, and the assessment Protocol is an important step in the right direction. Work has been in progress on the assessment Protocol since 2008. Those involved in its development are nations, banks, financial institutions, NGOs and the International Hydropower Association IHA which has also directed the work. These parties include Oxfam, The Nature Conservancy, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Transparency International, Iceland, Norway, China, Zambia and the World Bank.
The assessment Protocol is based on set of topics important to forming a view on the overall sustainability of a hydropower projects. There are four Protocol assessment tools - Early stage, Preparation, Implementation and finally Operation. So by using the Protocol it is both possible to evaluate sustainability of power stations in operation and the sustainability of projects that are under development. The Protocol assesses a variety of issues and makes it possible for stakeholders to talk the same language with regards to sustainability of the resources.
Next spring there will be an evaluation by the same parties according to the Protocol and the plan is to use that assessment Protocol to evaluate Hvammsvirkjun Power Project. This course and the evaluation will provide the foundation for knowledge required for using the assessment Protocol. Landsvirkjun plans to apply the assessment Protocol to its power stations from the early stages of preparation as well as to power stations that have been operated for decades. It is hoped that the conclusions will lead to improved preparations and construction and also to increased sustainability in operations.