Yong Jiao, the Chinese vice minister for water, gave the keynote address at the recent 79th annual meeting of the International Commission on Large Dams, which held its international symposium in Lucerne, Switzerland, in June.
Speaking to HRW-Hydro Review Worldwide at the meeting he said "These days, there are not many [energy] choices, and hydropower is the best option, not only for China but for many developing countries". Highlighting the generally positive outlook for the sector, he continued: "Before Fukushima, many countries had plans for nuclear and hydro, but after the tsunami people need to reconsider, and hydropower has many benefits. We need renewable energy and we need security of supply."
But Jiao also added a note of warning, observing, "Economic development and urbanization is increasing fast in northern China, and grain production is also increasing, and that is having a major impact on our dams and reservoirs." He added: "There has been a loss of storage capacity of reservoirs, and climate change amplifies the pressure of competing water demands, while insufficient storage is causing water scarcity and competition among water users."
Jiao is right to highlight the competing demands for water resources, focusing on just one more obstacle that hydro installation owners and operators must consider and overcome in an increasingly energy hungry and resource constrained world.
Maximizing available resources increasingly means developing hydro projects in ever more challenging environments where risks may be expected to rise still further. In this edition we take a look at methods to minimize those risks with a view on techniques to overcome potentially costly adverse geology during tunneling operations in the Himalayas, described in our feature on page 26.
Of course, alongside managing hydrological resources, one of the key drivers of new hydro development is the need to accommodate increasing quantities of variable renewable energy on the grid. Certainly in Europe this has prompted something of a growth boom in this sector, an opportunity which we explore in detail in our cover story beginning on page 14.
And, once hydro resources have been tapped the fundamental goal must be their efficient use. Maximizing the commercial value of hydro resources is the subject of two of our other in-depth articles in this edition. On page 34 we take a look at a wide area system monitoring model which has been trialed in Thailand, offering an up-to date take on more efficient management and maintenance of existing hydro assets.
Meanwhile, on page 22, we see a novel development in 3D optics, which potentially offers an even more effective tool in condition monitoring, and consequently the commercial benefits this suggests.
In all we see an industry actively responding to a world in which hydro resources are facing ever greater demands, and where the safe and efficient use of these resources remains paramount if we are to meet our energy goals.