Hydropower developers can now demonstrate the sustainability performance of their project by commissioning a remote assessment using latest communications and monitoring technology.
New guidance issued by the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Council allows drones and video-conferencing to take a larger role in independent assessments. As a result, live video inspection and satellite images, as well as online interviews and surveys, can now be used by assessors.
Issued in response to Covid-19 travel and safety restrictions, the new guidance means a hydropower project can now be benchmarked in a fast and cost-effective way using the Hydropower Sustainability Tools in circumstances when the assessor cannot be physically present on site.
“Drone and video footage, guided by what the assessors identify they need to see and accompanied by maps, can provide good visual evidence of the project area,” stated Dr Helen Locher, accredited lead assessor, who advised on the new guidance.
“For more complex projects where remote methods do not provide a sufficiently complete view of the project, the assessors can provide an interim report to be finalized following a field verification visit.”
Good international industry practice
Developed by the Council and the International Hydropower Association (IHA), in consultation with independent assessors accredited by IHA, the guidance gives the assessor flexibility to judge which assessment activities can be conducted fully or partially remotely. Local stakeholders and NGOs can also be asked to provide independent verification.
Aligned with the World Bank and IFC performance standards, the Hydropower Sustainability Tools comprised of Guidelines on good international industry practice, an Assessment Protocol to measure performance against levels of good and best practice, and an ESG Gap Analysis Tool for assessing gaps against good practice.
The Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Council, a multi-stakeholder body made up of representatives of social, community and environmental organisations, governments, commercial and development banks and the hydropower sector, is responsible for governing the tools.
The Council is supported by IHA Sustainability, a not-for-profit division of the International Hydropower Association as its secretariat. IHA Sustainability manages the tools and delivers capacity-building projects and training to practitioners and professional accreditation courses for assessors.