Manitoba Hydro's 695-MW Keeyask Generating Station has earned the distinction of becoming the first North American hydropower project to be evaluated under the International Hydropower Association's Sustainability Assessment Protocol.
The results of the comprehensive report -- available via Manitoba Hydro here -- show 95% of Keeyask's assessed aspects ranked above the protocol's "good" practice level, while the plant received the highest score possible in 16 of 22 categories examined. The mark is the highest for any assessed worldwide thus far, according to Manitoba Hydro.
"The sustainability assessment of Keeyask is very positive, with all assessed aspects ranking at a good international practice to best international practice level," said Ken Adams, chair of the Keeyask Hydropower Limited Partnership and senior vice-president of power supply for Manitoba Hydro.
IHA's Sustainability Assessment Protocol is a comprehensive tool developed to determine the sustainability of hydropower projects. It uses evidence-based assessments of between 19-23 topics, depending on the development stage of the project, in areas such as downstream flow regimes, indigenous peoples, biodiversity, infrastructure safety, resettlement, water quality, erosion and sedimentation.
The study was conducted in December 2012 by four accredited assessors and two assessors-in-training from five countries, the utility said, reviewing project documents, Manitoba Hydro staff and contractors, representatives of First Nation partners, and a number of other parties involved with the project's development.
The Keeyask hydropower plant will be located along the Lower Nelson River. The project is a collaborative effort between Manitoba Hydro and four First Nations groups, including Tatasweyak and War Lake (acting as the Cree Nation Partners), and York Factory and Fox Lake (working together as the Keeyask Hydropower Limited Partnership).
The project will be subject to public hearings as part of its licensing process per the Manitoba Clean Environment Commission. Assuming approvals go as anticipated, however, construction is scheduled to begin in 2014 with power being generated by 2019.
HydroWorld.com reported in May that IHA had released assessments of Energia Sustentavel do Brasil (ESBR)'s 3,750-MW Jirau project in Brazil, Landsvirkjun's 84-MW Hvammur in Iceland, Statkraft's 288-MW Jostedal in Norway and E.ON Kraftwerke GmbH's 124-MW Walchenseekraftwerk in Germany.