HYDRO 07 Conference in Granada, Spain (15-17 October 2007)

The mood concerning present and future hydropower development worldwide was extremely positive among nearly 1100 participants from 74 countries who assembled in Granada, Spain, for HYDRO 2007. The theme of the event was ?New Approaches for a New Era?, and the consensus during discussions was that new planning approaches, improvements in communications among stakeholders, and greater sensitivity to environmental aspects (both by developers and by industrial companies) were heralding encouraging results.

The Conference included 21 Sessions plus seminars and workshops in parallel. A full description of the Conference program is available. A workshop on small hydropower under the SHERPA project was also organised. The hydro Conferences represent constructive gatherings of those interested in advancing well planned hydropower schemes worldwide and Hydro07 mission and venue were well defined in that respect.  


In her opening address, Alison Bartle of Aqua-Media International (Hydropower & Dams), which hosted of the Conference, observed that in the past few weeks alone, long awaited major hydro schemes had gone ahead on three continents: Bujagali in Africa (Uganda), Rampur in Asia (India), and the first two plants of the Rio Madeira scheme in South America (Brazil). While the environmental and social as well as technical aspects of all these projects had been carefully planned and studied, prolonged debates and in some cases fierce opposition had delayed them. But in recent months, balanced debate among all involved had convinced environmental authorities and lending agencies of the countries concerned that any negative social or environmental impacts can be mitigated, and are certainly outweighed by project benefits. In the case of Rio Madeira, a revised layout to reduce sedimentation problems will also save about 20%  of the project costs. All these schemes, and many other similar cases, were high on the agenda at HYDRO 2007, so that constructive lessons could be learnt.

High level delegations were present from virtually all countries with major hydro programmes under way, including 15 Asian, 15 African and 9 Latin American countries; this meant that a constructive exchange of experience was possible between nations at all the various development stages. Some highlights from the opening plenary session, co-chaired by ICOLD President L. Berga and Hon President C.V.J. Varma, were:  Keynote Addresses by: Alessandro Palmieri of the World Bank on the Bank’s Clean Energy Framework; and Adama Nombre, ICOLD Vice-President, from Burkina Faso, on needs for capacity building in the less developed countries.

The host country, Spain, was well represented in the opening session. F. Tapia, President of the Confederacion Hidrografica del Guadalquivir discussed hydro in his region; J. Yagüe, Deputy Director of Water at the Ministerio del Medio Ambiente discussed water resources development in Spain  - in particular the construction of dams in harmony with the environment; ICOLD President Prof Luis Berga focused on dams and hydropower; A. Zafra of ENDESA discussed Spain’s energy portfolio, stressing commitment to renewable energy and hydropower; and B. Navalon, head of Hydropower at Iberdrola, outlined his utility’s substantial plans for further hydropower and pumped-storage development over the next ten years.

Reports of current hydro development activities and future plans were presented in the first session from a number of countries with enormous potential. Examples were: Vietnam (presented by Dr Lam Du Son of EVN); the Russian Federation (presented by R. Kazhiakhmetov of RusHydro); Brazil (presented by M. Zimmermann, Secretary of State for Energy Planning and Development at the Ministry of Mines & Energy); India (presented by S.K. Garg, CEO of NHPC); and Guinea (presented by K. Guilavogui of the Ministère de l’Hydraulique et de l’Energie). In the session on Finance, C.R. Head of the UK proposed a new concept for hydro project finance, which he felt could replace the traditional BOOT model. The session also demonstrated that the policies of major lending agencies such as the World Bank are now turning to concrete actions. On social aspects, an instructive presentation from the Director of Inversa, Honduras, stressed that stakeholder involvement should be real and not ritual. She described experience with introducing hydropower to rural communities; a sensitive approach to communications during the planning process, and also the employment opportunities offered to local people had led not only to public acceptance, but also enthusiasm for the project.  Session 12, focusing on Small hydro in Europe, which was co-ordinated with ESHA, and chaired by ESHA president Prof B. Pelikan also pointed out the main features and challenges of the SHP sector in Europe and presented some of the main working areas of the SHERPA project.

A full report of HYDRO 2007 will be published in Issue 6 of Hydropower & Dams; this will include summaries of the various sessions prepared by chairmen, moderators and panellists, as well our own overview of the proceedings.

Below is a brief summary of the main issues which emerged from the sessions, as well as an overview of the conference participants. 

  • Potential, development progress in a new era: Country reports demonstrated the huge hydro potential in the parts of the world where extra capacity is most needed. There are clearly defined plans in the countries concerned. It is clear that there is a greater acceptance of hydro  (a new era) – this is partly thanks to adherence to practical guidelines and improved communications with stakeholders. Vast potential is available from marine energy (tidal and wave power systems). New hydro and pumped storage is moving ahead not only in developing countries. Increased international collaboration, and partnerships in planning and development are playing a key role in accelerating development.
  • New approaches to project finance: Policies of the IFIs are turning into practical actions – many schemes are moving ahead in the developing countries. New financial model was proposed BOSS (build, operate, sell and start again, as a possible replacement for the BOOT concept. Financiers are requiring evidence of sustainability. The IHA Sustainability Assessement Protocol was mentioned as a useful tool in this respect.
  • Environment, new approaches and issues: The industry is increasingly active in developing concepts to protect the environment (fish protection, water quality conservation, etc). A practical exchange of experience from different countries (case studies) was valuable. Climate change:  there is clearly diversity of opinion on scientific research, but there is consensus on the need for action – hydrological modelling, adapting infrastructure, etc.
  • Key challenges for project design and construction: Sedimentation management: more hydro projects are in sediment-rich countries. There is an urgent need for new approaches, with greater emphasis on site selection and project layout. Tougher site conditions – adequate investigations are essential well in advance to evaluate geological risks. Difficult conditions in remote areas are strongly influencing project progress. A significant evolution in construction techniques and equipment was reported.
  • Social aspects and communications: Stakeholder involvement in planning must be real, not ritual. Responsible planning avoids conflict, enhances acceptability, and thus also saves time and costs. Providing employment opportunities for local people can play a key role in acceptance, and even enthusiasm for a hydro project. Benefits of a project must be local, as well as regional/national.
  • Technology: O&M is becoming progressively easier, but continuous training of staff is essential. Silt erosion can be a key issue; new methods for protecting machinery were proposed. Owners and manufacturers are on the right track for refurbishment, with and without upgrading (not only leading to improved availability of power, but also better water management, and enhancement of the environment). Hydro equipment – a broad range of topics were covered. Computational fluid dynamics was prominent as a design tool and for operational investigations. Other equipment-related topics of special interest included: turbine design with self-lubricating guidevanes; recent developments in welding components, turbine shaft seals, and PTFE coated thrust bearings. Developments in gate technology an innovative bottom outlet gate at Kárahnjúkar was described.


Within Hydro07, ESHA (The European Small Hydropower Association), organised a session on small hydropower in Europe where the main aspects and challenges of the sector were presented. Besides, this session was planed under the SHERPA project aiming at achieving a better market penetration of the sector in order to comply with the EU targets for RES and for SHP in particular.

The session was chaired by Mr Pelikan, presiden of ESHA and the program included among other issues investment oportunities in the EEC, implementation of the water framework directive, status of the SHP in EU-27, profitability and techincal aspects....


  • SHP Investment opportunities in the EEC - Mr Gospodjinacki, Slovenian Small Hydropower Association, Slovenia.
  • Status of small hydropower policy framework and market development in the fromer EU-15 and selected EFTA countries. Mr Soderberg, Swedish Renewable Energies Association, Sweden.
  • Status of small hydropower policy framework and market development in the new members of EU-27. Mr Punys, Lithuanian Hydropower Association, Lithuania.
  • Implementation of the WFD in Italy and experimental studies on rewerved flow. Mrs Gollessi, APER (Associazione Produttori di Energia da Fonti Rinnovabili), Italy.
SHP Session in HYDRO 07
View of the audience during the Plenary Session
Alison Bartle, Director of Aqua-Media International, speaking during the Opening session
Exhibition Hall
Gala Dinner
Flamenco Dancers at Gala Event