Following close on the heels of the release of the World Commission on Dams’ final report, a new report describes hydro as the ‘largest source of renewable energy from a proven technology’ and as ‘one of the most viable sources of new generation’.

Hydropower and the World’s Energy Future was jointly prepared by the Implementing Agreement on Hydropower of the international-energy-agency, the Canadian Hydropower Association and the international-hydropower-association. ‘The three organisations felt that it was important to underline the key role hydro power plays in supplying clean, affordable and reliable electricity to more than 80 countries in the world,’ says Pierre Fortin, executive director of the Canadian Hydropower Association.

The report discusses the benefits of hydro but also takes on board issues raised in the WCD report and provides a review of social and environmental impacts, recommendations on best practice and the potential way forward for hydro development.

‘It is also important to note,’ said Fortin, ‘that this report focuses on hydro power, a clean and renewable source of energy, while the WCD’s document reviews the performance of dams in general. Not all dams provide electricity and not all hydro power installations have dams.’ The report proposes that a disciplined approach to planning should be implemented when considering both existing and future projects. It recommends:

*An energy policy framework.

*A decision-making process.

*A comparison of hydro power project alternatives.

*Improving environmental management of hydro power plants.

*Sharing benefits with local communities.

The report says that taken cumulatively, these recommendations could form the basis of guidelines for the development and management of hydro power projects. The report also claims to demonstrate an awareness within the industry of the social and environmental impacts of hydro power which need to be addressed, and that expertise exists to avoid or mitigate the negative impacts of hydro power.