Hydropower projects must seek to ensure that life, property and the environment are protected from the consequences of dam failure and other infrastructure safety risks.
While dam safety is one of the most critical infrastructure safety considerations, this topic also has a strong community safety focus and there are a broad range of risks to the community that need to be considered. The requirements and expectations for the developer and owner/operator differ during the life cycle stages - project preparation, implementation and operation.
Effective infrastructure safety processes will help a project developer, owner or operator ensure that at each stage of a project’s life cycle risks are avoided, minimised and mitigated and stakeholder confidence is maintained.
Understanding good practice
International industry good practice in infrastructure safety for hydropower projects is defined in the Hydropower Sustainability Guidelines on Good International Industry Practice (HGIIP).
The guidelines were published by the International Hydropower Association and are governed by the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Council, a multi-stakeholder group of representatives of civil society, industry, governments and financial institutions.
Assessing project performance
Two assessment tools are available to measure hydropower project performance:
The Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol (HSAP) is used by independent accredited assessors to consider whether a project has achieved good and best practice at different stages of its life cycle. Infrastructure Safety is addressed in P-5 for the preparation stage, I-5 for the implementation stage and O-6 for the operation stage.
The Hydropower Sustainability ESG Gap Analysis Tool is used by independent accredited assessors to help project teams address any gaps against good practice in environmental, social and governance topics across 12 assessment sections. Infrastructure Safety is addressed in Section 9.