10 Oct 2023

Jirau Hydropower Plant in Brazil Attains Gold-Level Sustainability Certification

10 Oct 2023  by waterpowermagazine   
The Jirau hydropower plant, boasting 3.75GW of power capacity and owned by Jirau Energia, has become the first project in South Amercia to secure Gold-level certification against the Hydropower Sustainability Standard (HSS). This feat underscores the commitment of Jirau Energia, with ENGIE, a member of the International Hydropower Association (IHA), leading the way in promoting sustainable hydropower practices in the region, the IHA said.

Eddie Rich, CEO of IHA, emphasized the significance of this accomplishment, stating: "This is a story about how the Hydropower Sustainability certification process can help improve a huge project's sustainability performance."

Maurício Bähr, CEO of ENGIE Brazil and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Jirau Energia, expressed their delight at achieving this unprecedented certification in Brazil, noting: "We have been committed to sustainability from the beginning of the project, and 'resilience' is the word that summarizes my memories of the construction period. This year, we celebrate 10 years of operation, and this award comes as an important recognition of all our hard work."

The certification process for the Jirau project involved a rigorous independent assessment, including a site visit conducted by a team of accredited assessors. Subsequently, a 60-day public consultation period allowed stakeholders to review and comment on the assessment findings.

The project's performance in the assessment exceeded good practice, with scores surpassing 60% in all advanced requirements for each of the 12 Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) topics outlined in the Hydropower Sustainability Standard.

As Edson Silva, CEO of Jirau Energia, pointed out: "As the primary source of electricity in Brazil, hydropower is essential to meet the country's energy demands. We recognize and advocate for the importance of hydroelectricity generation that actively minimizes any potential adverse social and environmental effects. We hope that Jirau can set an example for other hydropower projects across the continent, encouraging them to continuously improve and demonstrate their sustainability practices."

The journey towards Gold certification began in 2012 when Jirau's sustainability commitment was evident during an assessment against the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol (HSAP) tool, even during the project's implementation stage. This initial assessment laid the foundation for Jirau's remarkable journey towards achieving Gold certification in 2023.

Joerg Hartmann, Lead Accredited Assessor for the 2023 assessment and a member of the assessing team in the 2012 assessment, reflected on this journey, stating: "Having conducted the initial assessment of the Jirau project using the HSAP during construction, it is very gratifying to return after a decade of operations and witness the significant progress and consolidation of environmental and social initiatives, along with the positive impacts generated by the project. Having previously collaborated with Jirau Energia, we hold an optimistic outlook that this dedicated team will persist in working on remaining issues, particularly in areas related to the livelihoods of local communities and aquatic biodiversity, even as they have already achieved Gold-level certification."

The Jirau hydropower plant's Gold-level certification against the Hydropower Sustainability Standard represents a significant milestone in the region's commitment to sustainable energy practices, setting an example for others to follow in the pursuit of environmentally and socially responsible hydropower projects.


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