Hydrovision International: Planning for a clean energy future

Hydropower is the subject of much discussion around the world, the result of escalating demand for power and a pronounced interest in clean energy. As interest in hydropower expansion peaks, the industry's leading professionals and key decision makers will convene in Sacramento, Calif., July 19-22, for HydroVision International 2011, the year's largest gathering of hydropower professionals.

As global demand for electricity soars, world leaders are turning to hydropower to fill the void. Information and new ideas about using sustainable hydropower to meet the world's clean energy goals safely and efficiently will be shared during the four-day event. Experts will discuss the effects, solutions and the plan for advancing sustainable hydropower throughout the world and the potential to increase capacity.

HydroVision features more than 70 sessions, including 21 technical sessions, on topics ranging from pumped-storage design and ocean energy technologies to turbine repairs and fish passage. More than 450 speakers will share their knowledge and experience and nearly 3,000 people are expected to attend the event, which offers a wealth of networking opportunities with leading professionals and key decision makers.

What's more, the Sacramento Convention Center will feature a busy exhibition floor populated by the world's biggest players in the hydropower industry. More than 260 exhibiting companies will showcase the industry's latest products and services.

The keynote address will include a roundtable discussion involving Randy Livingston, vice president of power generation for Pacific Gas and Electric Co., John DiStasio, general manager and chief executive officer of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, and Mark Cowin, director of the California Department of Water Resources.

HydroVision features 73 sessions under nine tracks: Asset Management, Civil Works & Dam Safety, New Development, Ocean/Tidal/Stream Power, Operations & Maintenance, Policies & Regulations, Water Resources, Technical Papers and Poster Galleries.

What follows is a description of some of the highlights in seven tracks.

Policies & Regulations

One of the marquee sessions at HydroVision centers on the licensing of hydropower projects in the U.S.

Entitled U.S. Licensing: In Pursuit of a New Paradigm, this session will focus on the arduous licensing process in the U.S. and feature several policy and regulatory experts, including Roger Ballentine, president of Green Strategies Inc. and a Senior Fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute, and John Seebach, director of the Hydropower Reform Initiative.

"With panelists like Roger Ballentine, John Seebach and Jim Hoecker, we think we have some marquee speakers who are well known by the industry," said Jay Maher, chairman of the Policies & Regulations track.

Hoecker, former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and outside counsel to WIRES, an advocacy group for transmission developers, will participate in a panel discussion entitled Transmission: Overcoming Bottlenecks and Increasing Opportunities. In this session, panelists will discuss opportunities to expand hydropower through better transmission policy.

Water Resources

Lowell Douglas Stott, a professor of Earth Sciences at the University of Southern California and a renowned expert in the causes and effects of climate change, will be one of the featured speakers in a highly anticipated session entitled Climate Change and the Shifting Baseline.

Stott and his team of researchers are reconstructing climate information in Indonesia, India and China. The information may shed new light on how water resources may be affected by changes in climate. Stott and other experts on the cutting edge of climate change science will share their perspectives and paleo climate data to gauge the potential effects on water resources and hydropower production.

"Climate change has been a popular topic within the water resources track of HydroVision for a number of years," said Track Facilitator Patti Kroen. " We are pleased to again include a discussion of the relationship of climate change to hydropower resources at Hydrovision 2011 and are thrilled that Dr. Stott will share his important work to inform our understanding of climate variability in the paleo-historic record."

Greenhouse gas emissions from reservoirs will be the featured topic in what is sure to be a lively session entitled Hot Topics in Water Quality. Other issues, including rising mercury concentrations in fish and dissolved gas concentrations following spills, also will be discussed by panelists in this session. Don Price of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is moderating the session. Panelists include Edward Cheslak, a senior consulting scientist with Pacific Gas & Electric Co.; Lynn Best, director of Environmental Affairs for Seattle City Light; and Jennifer Mosher, a research scientist for Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

New Development

There are hundreds of new hydropower projects in some stage of development throughout the world. They come in all shapes and sizes and are being funded and supported with a range of incentives and financing programs.

HydroVision's New Development track "is bringing some of the world’s best thinking on new projects' financing, sustainability, benchmarking and development techniques to this year's participants," said track Chairman Norman Bishop. "With the resurgence of new hydropower development, throughout the world, project developers are seeking new ways to manage the risks inherent in these projects."

A panel of experts will discuss the types of projects that are being pursued around the world, the incentives in place to promote new construction and the sources of capital available for new projects in a session entitled New Development Around the World.

Michael Labelle of Hydro-Quebec is the moderator. Panelists include Linda Church Ciocci, executive director of the National Hydropower Association; Gaurav Bhatiani, the head of Market Analysis and Strategy for SN Power India; Cameron Ironside, program director for the International Hydropower Association; Jacob Irving, president of the Canadian Hydropower Association; and Karin Seelos, vice president of Power Generation-International Affairs for Statkraft Energi AS.

Asset Management

Managing hydropower assets to maximize efficiency and investments is a craft that can be improved with new tools, technology and strategies. Incorporating all of this into long-term asset management plans will be the focus of seven sessions under the Asset Management Track.

"From generating equipment and dam features to people, systems and planning, Asset Management is all about more effective, efficient and reliable hydropower operations," said track Chairman Brent Mahan, director of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Hydroelectric Design Center. "This year's Asset management track promises to provide innovative ideas on all of these topics."

Among other things, a panel of experts will explain why asset managers are venturing beyond generation to include transmission and system stability assets. This session, entitled Managing Hydro Assets in the New Energy Future, will be moderated by Ron Miller of Voith Hydro Inc. Panelists include Mark Jones, manager of federal hydro projects for Bonneville Power Administration; Rick Miller, senior vice president of HDR/DTA; Klaus Engels, vice president of Germany's E.ON; and Jiri Koutnik, head of Basic Design for Voith Hydro Holding GmbH & Co.

Another key asset management session features a progressive discussion about the use of risk-informed decision making and financial models to craft a long term asset management strategy. In this session, entitled Using New Tools to Come Up with a Long-Term Approach to Asset Management, attendees will learn what new tools and monitoring methods asset managers are using to improve investment decisions.

James Clune, the hydro asset manager of Bonneville Power Administration, is the moderator of this session. Panelists include James Hamilton, senior planner for BC Hydro; Richard Griffiths, strategic asset manager of Meridian Energy Limited; Lynn Mills, operations manager of Seattle City Lights Skagit Hydroelectric Project; and Ryan Stewart, an economist for the Bonneville Power Administration.

Ocean/Tidal/Stream Power

Federal regulators have issued preliminary permits for hydrokinetic energy projects exceeding 10,000 MW in the U.S. Outside the U.S., the capacity of proposed hydrokinetic projects is significantly higher.

Generating electricity from river currents, ocean waves and tides is an emerging industry with great promise. In theory, the Earth’s oceans and rivers could supply us with a lot of clean energy. But important questions about cost, capacity and its impact on the environment continue to linger.

All of these issues will be thoroughly vetted by leading hydrokinetic energy experts in seven sessions under the Ocean/Tidal/Stream Power track at HydroVision.

The status of several ongoing projects will be discussed in a high-profile panel discussion involving some of the world’s leading hydrokinetic energy developers, including Verdant Power and Ocean Power Technologies.

The session, entitled Under Construction: Project Status and Opportunities, will be moderated by Mirko Previsic of Re Vision Consulting LLC. Panelists include George Taylor, chairman of Ocean Power Technologies; Trey Taylor, president of Verdant Power; and Jochen Weilepp, managing director of Voith Hydro Ocean Current Technologies GmbH & Co.

Hydrokinetic energy technologies are largely unproven. Testing is underway to gauge the commercial viability of these new and improved devices. The results of these tests will be discussed during a session entitled How Are These New Technologies Performing?

Jochen Weilepp of Voith Hydro Ocean Current Technologies GmbH & Co. is the moderator. Panelists include Richard Yemm, chief technical officer of Pelamis Wave Power; Martin McAdam, chief executive officer of Aquamarine Power; Peter Fraenkel, chief technical officer of Marine Current Turbines; Dick Georges, president of RSW RER; Robert Stevenson, chief executive officer of Tidal Generation; and David Langston, project and business development manager for Voith Hydro Wavegen.

Civil Works & Dam Safety

Of the more than 80,000 dams in the U.S., about a third pose a "high" or "significant" hazard to life and property if a failure occurs, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

As dams get older, dam safety programs, inspections and monitoring methods become increasingly important to public safety.

What are the best tools, management practices and monitoring methods for maintaining safe dams and civil structures? This is the underlying question that panelists will attempt to answer during seven sessions under the Civil Works & Dam Safety track.

Panelists include Brian Becker, chief of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation's Dam Safety Program; Patrick Regan, regional engineer for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; Warren Witt, manager of hydropower operations for AmerenUE; and Murray Gillon, managing director of New Zealand's DamWatch Services.
Among other things, dam safety experts from throughout the world will discuss risks associated with earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters. Experts also discuss the value of risk-based decision making, a comprehensive "systems" approach to dam safety, unexpected situations that aren't normally considered during routine evaluations and the latest advances and most pressing issues.

Operations & Maintenance

Every aspect of hydropower plant operations and maintenance contributes to its success. In the seven sessions under the Operations & Maintenance track, hydropower's most innovative and progressive O&M managers share their approaches to cutting costs, improving equipment longevity and performance and increasing worker safety.

Entitled Turbines: New and Best Maintenance Practices, this session will discuss the best practices power producers are using to improve turbine maintenance. Steve Melavic of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is the moderator. Panelists include Charlie Allen, lead mechanical engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Shanna Durham, mechanical engineer for the Bureau of Reclamation; Ravi Sharma, senior power utility engineer for the California Department of Water Resources; and Jose Antonio Valdes, general manager of Pacific Hydro Chile.

Another session that is sure to peak the interest of O&M managers will center on techniques power producers are using to improve maintenance programs. Specifically, panelists will discuss ways to improve root cause failure analysis and centralized digital relay protection without overhauling the entire program. The session, entitled Tuning Up your Maintenance Program, also features information about four levels of maintenance protection.

By Russell Ray, senior editor of Hydro Review and conference committee chairman of HydroVision International

For more HydroVision International details, or to register, click here

For more hydropower news and information, click here

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