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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Application of the International Hydropower Association’s Sustainability Assessment Protocol: Case Studies of Blanda Hydropower Plant (Iceland) and Upper Seti Hydropower Project (Nepal)

Pravin Karki

Application of the International Hydropower Association’s Sustainability Assessment Protocol:  Case Studies of Blanda Hydropower Plant (Iceland) and Upper Seti Hydropower Project (Nepal)

Hydropower offers a promising alternative for supplying clean and sustainable energy to meet the world’s increasing demands. Hydropower already produces one sixth of the world’s energy. Undeveloped potential remains in countries where the need for water and energy is the greatest. The challenge for the hydropower industry is to learn from its past experience and develop hydropower in a sustainable way. The International Hydropower Association (IHA), working for the past eight years with international specialists and through a global consultative process, has produced the Sustainability Assessment Protocol (Protocol). There were two main objectives for this study. The first was to test the Protocol in projects in different geographical, political and economical contexts, and in two different scenarios: an existing operating hydropower station and a new hydropower project in the planning stage. The operating Blanda Hydropower Plant in Iceland and the planned Upper Seti Hydropower Project in Nepal were chosen. Secondly, the Protocol was evaluated using assessment frameworks developed by Fenner et al., and Hacking. Based on audits conducted in Iceland and Nepal, and the evaluation using the two sustainability frameworks, the research has helped to demonstrate that the Protocol is a valuable and practical tool in assessing the sustainability of hydropower projects. The research also points out some of the gaps in the Protocol that need to be addressed. Lastly, the Protocol was consulted to help identify gaps in the sustainability performance of the projects in Iceland and Nepal and provide some suggestions for the owners on how to enhance the performance of these projects.


Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.