Energy security and water security are loosely linked through hydropower dams. Water security means more than sufficient potable water supply and sanitation. It also means the myriad of environmental services, human livelihoods and food production systems that are dependent upon a healthy, functional and dynamic river system. These essential amenities are frequently--but often unnecessarily--compromised by hydropower dams, of which there are some 12,000 now operating globally. Africa's hydropower development is about to undergo a quantum leap, as it must with access to electricity being as low as 3% in some African countries. An additional driver is the global movement in the direction of carbon-free sources of power.
Based on its Water Resources Sector Strategy, Infrastructure Action Plan, and renewable energy targets, the World Bank is re-engaging in energy and water infrastructure and, specifically, multi-purpose hydropower in an environmentally responsible and socially acceptable manner. This project focuses on reoperation of hydropower dams to improve their environmental performance. More specifically, this project aims to provide three tangible benefits to the World Bank, its clients, and water management institutions and stakeholders generally:
1) Screening Model: Produce a robust conceptual model that will enable individuals with varying levels of training and experience to reconnoiter a large number of hydropower dams to ascertain which are, and which are not, good prospects for a more definitive feasibility study, leading to the development of an implementable reoperation plan. The design and logic of REOPS is explained in detail in the body of the report.
2) Opportunities List: Provide a reoptimization "opportunities list" for Africa that identifies the hydropower dams, and complexes of dams, which would be the best targets for such a detailed feasibility study, with a preliminary indication of the reoperation strategy that appears to be most promising.
3) Lessons for New Dams: Provide insights as to how the next generation of hydropower dams can be sited, designed and operated to be most environmentally compatible. By studying how the environmental performance of existing dams can be improved, better decisions regarding future dams can be illuminated.
The project used the AquaStat "Geo-referenced database on African dams" as the base data source for compiling an inventory of major hydropower facilities on the African continent. Dams less than 15 m. in height and dams without hydropower production were eliminated from this dataset at the outset. The AquaStat database was cross-referenced with the UDI World Electric Power Plants Data Base (WEPP), a global inventory of electric power generating units. From this, an inventory of 141 large hydropower dams in Africa was created. The geo-referenced information from AquaStat was used to create a GIS map of dam locations in Africa, which also included layers containing information on Ramsar sites, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, IUCN protected areas, and hydrology and land cover characteristics. Information garnered from this map, along with additional internet resources was used to catalogue the river system, dam and power sector data needed to utilize the REOPS tool.