Sian Crampsie

Consulting firm Pöyry says that it has used groundbreaking data to map the small-scale hydropower potential in 14 West African states.

Pöyry has worked in conjunction with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREE) and used the latest geographical information system (GIS) technology to “prove the case” for small-scale hydropower the region, it said.

The groundbreaking data, which maps the hydrological conditions, the hydropower potential as well as climate change information for more than 500 000 river reaches, will be available to governments and developers to help them identify and implement hydropower projects.

According to Pöyry, the potential for small scale hydropower in West Africa has neither been known in detail nor been exploited until recently, partly because of a lack of information on river flow, river topography and hydropower potential.

In addition, uncertainty with respect to the possible impact of climate change on water availability and hydropower production is considered a risk by potential hydropower investors, it added.

The maps developed by Pöyry and ECOWAS “significantly” improve the database for small hydropower development in the region, and will also provide vital information for medium and large projects.

“It is an important source of information for hydropower master planning at the national level and will support potential investors in decision-making, investment planning and risk management,” said Martin Fuchs, Section Head Hydro Consulting, Pöyry. “We are proud of our work with ECREEE and hope to replicate the success of this project in other regions of Africa, Asia and South America.”