Waterpower industry talks solutions on urgency to act on net zero at Canadian Waterpower Week

15 October 2021

More than 300 participants and national leading experts in hydropower came together earlier this month for the 2021 Canadian Waterpower Week – Canada's preeminent event for hydroelectricity producers, supply-chain partners and policy makers, hosted by national trade association WaterPower Canada.

"What was most striking about this year's event was the strong sense of urgency shared by presenters and participants," said Anne-Raphaëlle Audouin, President and CEO of WaterPower Canada. "We've got less than a decade now to meet ambitious and essential emissions reduction targets, and our industry is ready to play what can only be an instrumental role. But what the Conference also highlighted is the need to move from targets to action."

Dolf Gielen (Director, Innovation and Technology Center, International Renewable Energy Agency) helped set and reinforce the tone of hydropower as critical element in energy transition during his opening keynote address at the conference.

"The world needs an accelerated energy transition going forward, and hydropower has to play a key role," said Gielen. "We need new hydropower capacity, but also we need modernizing and upgrading of the existing hydropower capacity. Flexibility and storage systems of hydropower can complement solar and wind going forward, and sustainability of hydropower is key in this development."

WaterPower Canada was pleased to welcome Amanda Lang (Anchor, BNN Bloomberg), Hilde Bakken (EVP Production and Industrial Ownership, Statkraft), Sophie Brochu (President and Chief Executive Officer, Hydro-Québec), Will Gardiner (CEO, Drax Group), and Chris O'Riley (President and CEO, BC Hydro) for a timely pre-COP 26 discussion on the role of hydropower with respect to the twin goals of decarbonization and electrification.

"At Statkraft, we have been doing hydropower for the past 100 years. Given the energy transition, in addition to new renewables, we have to look into the existing fleet, and look into hydropower that will play a big role in the market of supplying zero emission generation and power going forward," – said Bakken. "Another big responsibility is making sure that we are developing transmission across. I think it's important for policymakers not to become too national because then you're not solving the problem."

Diversity, equity and inclusion

WaterPower Canada was also honoured to host an exceptional panel on diversity, equity and inclusion, and to provide a platform for the prestigious Woman of Waterpower Award. Claudine Bouchard (Executive Vice President – TransÉnergie and Construction, Hydro-Québec) was announced as the winner of the Award! 

"I am both moved and honoured to receive the Woman of Waterpower Award today. To me, accepting your recognition is propelling to help even more younger women feel that they too can have their place in the hydropower and renewable energy ecosystem," Claudine Bouchard noted in her acceptance speech. "On behalf of all the employees I work with, who get up every morning to make the world a more sustainable place, and on behalf of the men, who have reached out to me and allowed me to be who I am, merci."

The Conference concluded with Ryan MacDonald (Senior Editor, Climate, Environment and Resources, The Globe and Mail), Nicolle Butcher (Senior Vice President, Renewable Generation and Power Marketing, OPG), Terry Miles (Director, Integrated Resource Planning, Manitoba Hydro), and David Murray (Chief Innovation Officer and Executive Vice President, Hydro-Québec) reflecting on the key projects and investment opportunities discussed during the conference that will play a central role in "Building Toward Net Zero".

"It's interesting when you look at the role that hydro historically has played. Certainly, in Ontario hydro is synonymous with electricity," said Butcher. "That legacy is what we need to build upon. There are really three elements that we're working on at OPG. That's maintaining our current assets, so how to refurbish them in a way that allows us to ensure that they're going to be there for the next 100 years. The second thing we're working on is highlighting the expansion of hydro, so how can hydro help from a storage perspective, or how does hydrogen play with hydro. And then finally building new. So whether it's completely redeveloping some of our old sites, or building new greenfield sites. Those are critical element that we're going to develop more in the coming decades to be able to address climate change."

"We are seeing major renewed interest around the world by governments and industry in Pumped Storage Hydro projects. Their contribution to reliability and resilience is really invaluable for clean power grids," - said Stanley J. Kocon, President and CEO of Voith Hydro North America. "We were very pleased to partner with WaterPower Canada to help raise awareness as to the role Pumped Storage can play in the clean electric future of Ontario, Alberta and other parts of Canada."

In addition to attending a full roster of virtual presentations, attendees were also able to use the virtual event platform to connect with one another, download material from sponsors, as well as play an interactive game for a prize.

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