Focus Session


Modernising hydropower to support a cleaner energy mix

Wednesday 15 May 2019 | 09:30-10:45

Today’s hydropower fleet, totalling 1,267 GW contributes around two thirds of global renewable electricity produced annually. By 2030, it is estimated that over half the existing fleet will have been, or be due to undergo upgrade and modernisation.

The International Energy Agency Sustainable Development Scenario estimates that electricity generation from hydropower can rise up to 39% from 4109 TWh in 2017 to up to 5722 TWh in 2030. For this to take place, it is crucial to retain and enhance the existing hydro fleet to continue its vital role as a major source of renewable energy in the global energy mix. SDG 9 recognises the need to retrofit existing infrastructure by 2030, taking advantage of efficiency increases, sustainability and industrial innovation.

One key aspect in the transition towards a cleaner energy mix, is integrating the deployment of advanced hydropower, together with wind and solar. Innovative technologies are being implemented that go beyond business-as-usual practices for modernisation of aging hydro facilities.

Looking forward, modernisation schemes will consider the need for increased hydropower storage and operating flexibility with much greater penetrations of variable renewables and greater climate extremes. Asset owners also need decision-making solutions to support their business case for advancing major investments in modernisation projects.

Providing decision-makers with the most current knowledge on how best to plan modernisation projects is therefore a top priority. This session will share strategies being implemented to modernise major assets, and discuss the opportunities as well as the risks for the sector.

Session objectives:

What innovative strategies are being implemented globally to ensure that the existing hydropower fleet is well prepared for its role in the future energy mix? This session will:

  • Highlight global projections for the energy mix, and the need for modernising existing hydropower assets;
  • Discuss innovative modernisation and planning strategies being implemented in the sector;
  • Bring forward decision-making concepts for new modernisation projects.



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Paolo Frankl

International Energy Agency (IEA)

Pierre Marx

General Electric

Gilles Feuillade


Christian Dupraz

Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE)