Siting and Design

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The siting and design of a hydropower project relates to the evaluation and determination of project siting and design options, including for the dam, power house, reservoir and associated infrastructure.

Examples of sustainability considerations for siting and design include: prioritising alternatives that provide opportunities for multiple use benefits; that are on already developed river systems; that maximise opportunities for and do not pose unsolvable threats to vulnerable social groups; or that avoid exceptional greenhouse gas emissions from reservoirs.

Adhering to good practice in siting and design can help a developer to deliver project objectives, optimise the constructed elements of the project and avoid, minimise and mitigate any issues associated with the development.

Understanding good practice

International industry good practice in siting and design 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. Siting and Design is addressed in P-4 for the preparation 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. Governance is addressed in Section 1.

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